Monday, 22 November 2010

The hand-made book – a game of Consequences?

by Wendy on November 22nd, 2010

The launch of The Romancer,  it has been decided,  will be in the theatre. Images of all twenty three- or is it twenty four? – novels will be hanging from purple ribbon. Anton, who caters in the cafe at the Town Hall,  is creating our signature Romancer cocktail and inventing intricate canapes.  I am looking for silver balloons.

In these pessimistic times in publishing I am determined to demonstrate optimism to the degree that I have designed and developed this book myself. I have commandeered Fiona Naughton’s portrait for the cover and have worked alongside Steve Tolson on the design of the outside and the inside of the book.

Gulp! With the launch of The Romancer ever nearer, I am now contemplating the consequences of my actions. For many years I have wanted to write a book about writing – well, my particular approach to being a writer. But I have not until now found the form that  would best express my peculiar approach.

But for now here, in an extract  from the book itself, is how it happened…

(Extract from The Romancer)

Setting the Scene

I am a lifelong admirer of the art of the biographer, who lives in the halfway house between history and personality. Returning from lunch with biographer Kathleen Jones one day, my head full of her new work on Katherine Mansfield and its connections with her biography of Catherine Cookson, I was suddenly inspired to make a ‘valid connection’ between my own life and my writing: a kind of creative memoir.   So I embarked on The Romancer – not a conventional memoir, but a kaleidoscope with all the elements of my life and experience as glittering fragments in the drum. Every time I shake this kaleidoscope a complex pattern emerges: each new pattern is a novel or story unique in itself.

             The Romancer is made up of three parts. First comes Inspirations, an account of elements – people, experiences, places, insights and feelings – from my own life that have, whether or not I was conscious of it, inspired my wide range of novels and stories. Inevitably this is the largest part of this book. Without such inspirations would there be anything to write? These elements are the glittering fragments in the drum of the kaleidoscope.

            Then Onto The Page celebrates many things – the poetic charm of getting the right words in the right place, the development of character, the evocation of place, the organisation of ideas, the architectural skills of  building a novel and the joys of editing and shaping one’s own prose. It involves seeing one’s work into print and the surreal, occasionally comical, vagaries of the world of publication….


  1. Your capacity to produce amazes me.
    But then I remember that writing is your day job as well as a passion.
    It still amazes me, but doesn't make me feel quite so inadequate.
    I have just started Kathleen's Mansfield biography and I seriously get that you were inspired by her.

  2. Dear Al

    It is my day job and I love it with a passion - as you know. I sometimes have problems with people who relate productivity to superficiality, but people who actually read my novels don't think that, I'm delighted to say.

    In fact I was as much inspired to write The Romancer by Kathleen as Katherine M.

    Loving your swan watch. Thank you for sharing.

    I took some time off the passion to read your novel. I so enjoyed it. It was very engrossing.


  3. Superficiality comes from the mind doing the writing, not from the amount produced. I think all your work springs from a deeply thoughtful, insightful mind.
    My little effort took years to get together, but unlike your situation I squeeze it in as I have time. I always estimate that it would have taken me around six months full time.
    I wasn't clear enough, I meant inspired by Kathleen (not that Mansfield wasn't inspirational).
    I am pleased you liked Veiled. Engrossing huh? Careful - I might quote you :-)



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