from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

The Pyrenees, the Cathars and Imago: part 3

You know how it is when a situation seems to be shaping up to mirror a past situation, one you'd prefer not to revisit?

1st March. Dewi Sant/St David's day, yes, if you come from Wales (though I don't). But in my personal little calendar this date has been looming (excuse me while I make a small excursion here to attempt a pun: 'tenterhooks' are part of the structure of a loom, as in weaving, and if I had one of those any more I'd certainly describe myself as having been stretched on them the last few weeks). It was the due date for my novel, Imago; and I'm sure I've already mentioned that this book has been looking for a home for 17 years.

So many times I've been nearly here; the last of which was 28 October 2008 (we writers can be a little bit obsessive, I know – but it was – well, wasn't in the end, but might have been – a significant date for me). So Imago was originally due out on that date; after a turbulent journey through most of the major publishing houses in GB, and many agents, and a great number of near-but-not-quite acceptances, and a great number of (lovely) rejections ('beautifully written, well-realised characters, exquisite descriptions but ultimately too esoteric' etc) it found a home with my then poetry publisher.

28 Oct 08 came. And went. No book, no word, and no words ever again from that publisher, to me or to the other authors of that publishing house. Hard, because I felt we'd had a good rapport and had worked closely together (though he had been quite ill) (not as a result of our working closely together, I hasten to add!) (as far as I know...). We don't know what happened to him/them.

Well, this time, from my new publisher, it arrived early, three weeks ago, but with a glossy cover (yuck) and a missing bit; so on publisher's instructions it went back. And then no word from publisher, printer, courier... At all...

The mind of course, whose default is so often fear, throws up past familiar scenarios. I have been trying to sit quietly with the thought that each situation is new and shouldn't be evaluated according to kneejerk reactions based on past experience.

And – of course I can trust this publisher, who has been true to his word, and prompt if not ahead of time on everything. Here it is. Yes – HERE IT IS IN MY HANDS! (Forgive this – if you are a writer you will understand my joy.)

It's a strange thing. The writing of this book was so easy; the route to publication has been so hard. I had just completed my commissioned book Riding the Dragon and all of a sudden Imago (though it had a different working title) appeared complete in my imagination; it simply took six months, over the winter of 93/94, to write it down (in the evenings after my daughter's bedtime, as until 1994 I was working as a designer/maker pretty well full-time, although also leading workshops and doing some writing). OK, it's had a few redrafts and been tightened considerably – cut by about a third (I tend to do that with all my books), but the story's identical. If you've read my previous posts on the Pyrenees and Cathars you might understand what I mean if I say it must have been incubating below the threshold of consciousness for all those years.

Oh one difficulty is that someone who shall not be named has since I wrote Imago published a book with a similar theme, and her mediaeval heroine had the same (unusual) name as mine, so with huge reluctance I've renamed the C13th protagonist; otherwise the story is as it came.

If you click on the cover image to the right it will take you through to a full description, but below is the brief synopsis. 

What if the veils between time, people and places are thinner than we think? And if the past and the present are continuously interwoven, even overlapping? Might a personal story, too, renew itself over the centuries and allow, finally, a kind of redemption?
For Annie, it starts out innocently enough: a late summer party on a Devon riverbank, a full moon. But two things happen as a result of that night - her husband is killed, and the accident, which leaves Annie badly injured, jolts her into a 750-year-old 'memory' that will take her to the Pyrenees, and the inferno at the heart of the Cathar inquisition. Here Annie falls in love; here too she has another encounter with death. 

Thank you for 'listening'. I'd love it, of course, if you bought it/ordered it from the library/told your friends/posted me an amazon review. But it will not be everyone's 'thing', I know.

Tomorrow I'll be posting the next poet from Confluence, our Two Rivers anthology.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive