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Friday, 3 February 2012

Reading and writing

I've been reading a lot of things I wouldn't normally look twice at recently, and by that I mean so-called 'literary' fiction. On the reading list the last few weeks have been books by Graham Swift, Jeanette Winterson, Julian Barnes and James Joyce, to name a few. I've really enjoyed them, but I noticed quite early on (I think halfway through Waterland, after finishing The Sense Of An Ending) that they have quite a lot in common with each other. All of the books I read had a fascination with history, and the idea that history and time and fluid and impermanent; that they are narratives constructed by the people looking at them, and possibly bear no resemblance to what 'actually' happened.

That's something I'd like to experiment with, particularly in the book I want to write after The Gibbet's Cross is finished. It's a book I've been playing around with in my head for a few years now, and as excited as I am about it I've never thought that I'm capable enough to do it justice when I come to write it; I could never figure out the best way to tell the story, so I've put it off. Reading some literary fiction has filled me with ideas, and I can't wait to get The Gibbet's Cross done and on submission so I can start on it.

I'm currently reading Michelle Paver's Dark Matter, which is a traditional ghost story that's almost Victorian in the telling. It's epistolary, told through letters and diary entries, and there's a great tradition of that in 19th century supernatural fiction; think about Dracula, or Frankenstein, or some of the works of Poe and Lovecraft. Even The Hound Of The Baskervilles is epistolary, when you get down to it. Dark Matter is fantastic so far, but reading it reminded me how much I love that form - and I realised that that's the way I need to write the next book. I'm itching to get going on it, but I know if I start I'll never finish The Gibbet's Cross.

Your mission, then; poke me, and prod me, and shout at me until I finish The Gibbet's Cross. And then I can start on the next one, and do it all again.

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