I am not happy with progress this month. One of the obstacles is distraction, the “closed door” dear to Stephen. Yes, I admit it, closing the door is not easy: I work in the main living room of the house (where most books are…) that faces the garden, and although visitors during day time are not that frequent, there are plenty of reasons to interrupt my work, for example shenanigans in the garden (you know, of the squirrels or magpies type!) – and of course the blooms. Then there is the phone! If only this was silent!! (But then it could be that all-important call…)
Another source of distraction is musing about the characters, which, it could be argued, is part of creative work, but in fact is yet another excuse for “going off at a tangent”. As I was writing the opening chapter of the book, my main character , Julian, was very clearly set in my mind: the proverbial male geek, on the whole inoffensive but goofy, surfing from one pretty face, or pair of legs, to the next in the street, his spirit open to new discoveries, hard-working and hard-playing. Twenty thousand words later this stereotype has gone much wobblier. Slowly, his sister Jane, at the same time a product of his imagination and a “real” persona on her own right, has slowly taken over the plot. From a small mouse in the shadow of her (big) brother she’s moved to central stage, facing the evil in his place, while he elopes once more with the rock-solid Sarah. He’s abdicated to Jane the search for the elusive Melissa, and as he withdraws from facing his past, he’s got more fuzzy. Is he really that uninterested in who Melissa is and what she wants? Evidence is piling of his moral cowardice.
As Jane grows (potentially) into the real hero (?) of the story her character has muted from the quiet “girl next door” in her brother’s life to a more subtle, more mature stature. Her emotional involvement in Berlin should be the turning point but the plot does not so far reflect this: is her character running away? But there is worse: Melissa herself is not evil enough, by a long shot. This threatens the whole logic of the plot. She’s supposed to go for that traitor, the fellow who left her to her destiny, to her death. Now she’s at risk of turning from Julian’s Nemesis to his sister’s best friend (or possibly worse: her lover)!
How disappointing can it get?