My new novel The Woman Who Drew Buildings is dedicated thus:
‘For the exceptional and inspirational Mary Davies - painter, writer and healer.’
This novel has been in the making for five or six years, when the exceptional Mary D gave me a box of materials about her travels and experience in Poland in the 1980s.
Mary knew I was interested in the idiosyncrasies of letters, notebooks, images and ephemera that I used to inspire my novels. I was, she said, to use them as I wished. We had long talks about her experiences and the the dilemma of using them as inspiration, for what I knew would be - in fact -pure fiction.
It has taken me some years to develop my imaginative take on on all this material and all these ideas in order to allow the novel to emerge of its own volition. It became more fluid – easier - when my purely imagined characters got to grips with the material of their true to life inspiration.
The Woman Who Drew Buildings is the outcome of all these processes.
A taster for you:
The extract below describes the moment when Adam, the estranged son of Marie Matheve (who has problems of his own) comes upon just such a cache of materials as his mother lies in a coma in hospital:
… Adam’s eye moved to the wardrobe and the pile of boxes above it. Now this he could disturb. He climbed on the dressing stool and started to pull down the boxes. He worked swiftly and as he worked his spirit lifted. He started to drop the boxes so their contents spilled on the polished floor – books, notebooks, papers, brochures, travel documents, bundles of clothes, bright scarves, packets of photos, sheaves of drawings in a disorganised pile….
… he took a second bottle of wine from the fridge, took a new notebook from the pile in her bottom left desk drawer, came back and began to make a careful list of the things that had spilled out of the boxes. His face was burning with wine drunk too fast, his brain was racing, his hand was shaking, but one by one he listed the items from the brown cardboard box:
· Article in Esperantist magazine by Marie Mathéve, recounting her ‘Study In Poland.’
· A newspaper article about the visit of Marie Mathéve’s visit to Poland on a Siropotimist grant to consider buildings.
· Photo of Marie and a younger (very pretty)woman leaning towards each other, making a triangle. On the back Marie has written; Jacinta Zielenska and me in the Cherzov flat.
· Small published book of drawings of Krakov marked Ex Libris D. Adama Zielenski` Paperback with a brown paper cover to protect it.
· Photographic slides, small and hard to see, with viewer,.
· Poland’s Progress edited by Michael Murray first pub 1944 this the third ed 1945
· Krakow by Edward Hartig 1964. Coffee table book.
· Poland by Irena and Jerzy Kostrowicki
· Official guide to Katowice
· Notebooks, many notebooks
· Two small red Sylvine notebooks still with their 30p price tag on. Marked Poland Diary 1981
· One Winfield exercise book marked Paris Diary 1985
· Daler Sketchbook full of Marie’s drawings eg: Cherrzov From My Bedroom; steelworks; estate with Tabac in foreground; old steelworks; coal mine looking towards Katowice; done in coloured markers, making her usual style brighter and bolder. But style is unmistakable.
· Spiral Bound Daler Sketchbook with more subtle drawings from Brittany, Paris Luxembourg gardens, View from my window 8th floor Rue de Rennes; Paris. Louvre 1985.
(Watch out for a later Post - The day when Mary D regressed me back in time...)
is published by Headline Book Publishing
and is available in all good bookshops.