|Photo courtesy of the author|
Many thanks for joining me today, Charlotte to talk about your latest WIP.
I am looking forward to The Painter's Apprentice and the new WIP sounds just as interesting. This is a period in London's history I love to read more about
Every time I finish writing a novel I feel sad that I’m saying goodbye to the characters I have come to know and love (or hate!) so well over the previous year or so. When I finished The Apothecary’s Daughter I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to everyone so I wrote a sequel, The Painter’s Apprentice, and continued the story.
But last month the manuscript of The Painter’s Apprentice was sent off to the publishers to be turned into a real book and I felt that same emptiness that I always experienced when one of my five children left home. So the only answer was to have a new baby. Not literally, of course, as my husband wouldn’t be at all amused, but each new novel is conceived in hope and expectation and nurtured into adulthood with love and a huge amount of hard work.
I’d become fascinated by my findings as I researched the mid C17th and decided to keep within that time frame for at least one more novel. As a friend in my writing group, Word Watchers, said, it’s like walking down a street in the darkness and peering in through all the lighted windows. Each window tells a different story, even though all the houses are in the same street. Thank you, John, that lovely image has kept me nosily peeping into window after window until I found the story I wanted to write about.
The Apothecary’s Daughter ended just after the Great Fire of London in 1666 and I began to wonder what it would have been like to live in or near the devastated city at that time. An estimated 13,000 houses had been destroyed and 100,000 people made homeless.
How did the fire affect the ordinary man in the street? How did people manage for food and water after their homes were destroyed? Where did they go? Who carried out the rebuilding? How could a love story grow out of the ashes, bringing new hope to my characters? So many questions!
Beginning a novel is like peering into the fog (or smoke in this case!) and catching glimpses of the characters, the settings and the story. The smoke is beginning to clear now and my hero and heroine are already real people in my mind. I’ve written the first 20,000 words of the manuscript,a ten page outline as a starting point and given it a working title of The House of Perfume.
Kate, my heroine, had an unhappy childhood and she yearns for a home and family of her own but, just as her dream is about to come true, the fire destroys her hopes. My hero, Gabriel, is a blind perfumer and I’m relishing the opportunity of conveying to the reader all the wonderful scents as well as the horrible smells, which were such a part of C17th life. I also have a wonderful villain based on the property speculator people loved to hate at that time. Spectacularly named If-Jesus-Had-Not-Died-For-The-Thou-Had’st-Been Damn,d Barbon, he was known to his friends as Nicholas. And who can blame him for that!
My day job is interesting and absorbing but, nevertheless, part of my mind remains in the C17th as I’m busy at work. It’s interesting how ideas simmer away on the back-burner and then come to the fore as soon as I return home, full of enthusiasm to fire up the laptop and write.
It’s early days to know if The House of Perfume will be published but, whatever happens, I will finish writing the story, if only to find out how Kate and Gabriel solve all their difficulties.