Today I’ve been busy proof-reading my new novel. In all modesty, I have to tell you it’s a really good story, and because I haven’t looked at it since sending it through the publishing process, I almost have to remind myself that I wrote it! But, of course, I must remember that as usual several of the characters had a hand in the plot too (animals included).
Although I wrote it as a story aimed at younger readers, the more I think about it, the more I’m certain it will have much wider appeal – 9 years to 99 years! That’s also the impression I got from those of you who were reading along under it’s former working title ‘A Nick in Time’. Thanks once again for all your encouragement.
Also today, for a little change from the Rabbit, I’ve been casting a critical eye over friend and fellow author, Paul English’s latest novel-in-the-making, the next in his wonderful ‘Fire Angel Universe‘ series. This is a real treat, because it’s all fresh and new. We have an excellent reciprocal arrangement of reading and commenting on each other’s work, which naturally also involves coffee and cake!
‘Following The Green Rabbit’ is due to be released next month, and I’m sure Paul’s new novel ‘Fire Angel: Igniting the Spark’ will not be far behind.
Here it is! The artwork for my new novel for younger readers, commissioned from my artist husband, Cliff Davies. Since the action happens in the ‘olden times’, I thought it might be nice to have a wood cut design. This is actually a lino-cut but the effect is similar and we’re both rather pleased with it.
You may remember my working title was ‘A Nick in Time’ but now the book is finished, a further transformation has occurred. From the chrysalis of the completed manuscript, and after readings, re-readings and feedback, a new title has emerged:
‘Following the Green Rabbit – a fantastical adventure’
If all goes to plan the rabbit will be released into the wild at the beginning of October.
And not to forget those who encouraged me on the journey and who were left in suspense as we neared the finish line: a voucher for the e-book will be coming your way. Debra ~ Tom ~ Jean Lee ~ Teresa ~ Violet Lentz ~ Sadje
And friend and author, Paul English, who has painstakingly read all the chapters and provided such useful feedback, will receive the first paperback out of the box when it arrives here in South Africa.
Okay, those of you who’ve been following the unfolding story of ‘A Nick in Time’, my children’s novel, will know we are reaching the climax and soon the story will draw to a (very satisfactory) close.
I’ve decided to devote the next couple of weeks to doing just that, so I shall be going rather quieter than usual, although I will be popping up now and then to see what you’re all up to.
One more cliff-hanging chapter will appear here, but the ultimate finale will remain undisclosed until the story is ready for publication. Then you, loyal followers of ‘A Nick in Time’ (and you know who you are), will receive a free advance copy of the ebook.
Bear with me. If I work hard it shouldn’t be too long.
“Here it is!” I hold up the proof copy of You’ll Never Walk Alone to Cynthia and Conner, who are sitting outside in the little garden wasteland outside Cynthia’s flat. It is pleasantly and unseasonably warm for an April afternoon in mid 80s Liverpool.
Connor stretches out his hand. “Let’s have a look then.”
I hand the pristine proof over to him. He turns it over in his hands and nods. “Look rather fine, I must say, Ms Hall. Worth the wait, so it is.” He flicks through the pages and frowns. “Print’s a bit small.”
Cynthia takes the book from him. She riffles the pages, holding it up to her face. “I love the smell of a new book.”
I nod and grin enthusiastically. “What do you think?”
“It’s very nice, my dear.” She looks at the pages more closely. “Oh look, Connor, there’s a little drawing of a cat here.” She holds the book out to him, open at the title page. “Is that my clever boy, Asmar?”
As if on cue, Cynthia’s beautiful Abyssinian cat emerges from the bushes and stretches languidly in front of us, mimicking the pose in the drawing.
Cynthia turns to the back cover. “Nice photograph of you, Ms Hall.”
“Thank you!” I smile delightedly.
“It must’ve been taken quite a while ago.”
I wince. Cynthia leans forward and pats my hand. “Well why not? None of us is getting any younger.”
Before I have the chance to reply, we hear voices coming around the side of the house. It’s Gina and Lucy. As soon as they see me, they call out in greeting. I hold up the second proof copy I have ordered for my household of characters.
“She has our book!” Lucy and Gina say together. Never mind that it’s my book. Whose name is on the cover?
They take it from me and sit down on the tatty wooden bench next to the wall. They exclaim in delight at the opening paragraphs. Lucy and Gina are, of course, in the opening scene. They start to read and for once they fall silent. After a couple of pages they look up. I can see in their eyes that they approve.
‘You’ll Never Walk Alone‘ a novel by Chris Hall will be published next month (we hope).
I’m back in Cynthia’s flat and the main characters from my very-soon-to-be-published novel are all staring at me. They don’t look happy.
“The book’s going to be out soon. Aren’t you pleased?” I say brightly.
Connor stares at the bottom of his empty wine glass then looks directly at me “We’re pleased that you’ve set the wheels in motion, so to speak.”
“Good.” I nod. “I’ll get the draft copy of the paperback around Easter.”
Connor looks around the room at his fellow characters. Cynthia nods at him.
“Well, Ms Hall, the thing is…”
Lucy interrupts. “We’re sorry,” she says, squeezing Pierre’s hand, “but we’re not really sure about the cover.” She smiles at me weakly.
“Oh?” I shake my head. “Have you any idea how long it took and how many versions of my beloved’s artwork I uploaded before we, or rather I, was happy?” I frown at them all. “I’m really pleased with it. It looks really…”
“Old-fashioned.” Gina interrupts.
I was going to say ‘retro’ actually. Like a Penguin Original.”
“But why a drawing?” Lucy says, fiddling with her long golden hair. “Why not a nice photo of all of us?”
“That’s, er, not going to be possible.” How do I tell them they don’t actually exist?
Another true-life story of an author and her characters😉
Connor turns from the window where he has been gazing out onto the empty street. “You’re the author, Ms Hall; we’re entirely in your hands.” He fiddles with the change in his trouser pockets. “But well, we were wondering, when exactly is our book coming out?”
I stare back at him, not comprehending the situation. My gaze travels around the room. Next to me, dressed in a blue silk caftan, legs curled up underneath her on the couch, is Cynthia. She is busy examining her beautifully manicured nails. Opposite sits Lucy, long blonde hair glowing.
“It’s just that it’s been so long,” Lucy says, a little breathlessly. “I mean…” her voice trails off and Pierre, her boyfriend, who is perched on the arm of her chair, squeezes her shoulder gently.
Lucy turns to Gina who is sitting in the matching armchair next to her. I notice she is fiddling with a shiny new ring on her third finger. The light catches the bright solitaire diamond sending patterns flashing across the worn Persian rug where Asmar, Cynthia’s cat, is lounging. He dabs at the flickering light with a casual golden paw. The blaring of a televised football match filters down from the flat upstairs where Gary, Gina’s boyfriend fiancé now? must be watching.
Gina sits forward and leans towards me. “It’s not that we’re ungrateful. We’ve loved our story. It was so exciting!” She pauses for a moment. “Well, mostly.” She frowns momentarily. “It all turned out all right in the end though,” she adds, grinning. “It’s just that, I’m sorry to have to say this, but we feel like we’re in limbo.”
I look around the room at these people whom I know so well; these people with whom I’ve spent so many hours.
Connor clears his throat. “Time waits for no man… or woman.” He takes his hands out of his pockets and puffs out his chest. “I have had a second slim volume of my poetry accepted for publication since you finished our manuscript.”
I gave you an agent, I think to myself. I fiddle with the pen I’m holding and glance down to see my notebook open on my lap.
Connor darts forward and grabs it. “Oh no, Ms Hall. No more changes. It’s done. Finished. You told everyone so.”
I hold my hands up. “I know. And it is. Finished I mean.” I sigh, my hands dropping into my lap. “I’m just waiting for the artwork for the cover.”
Connor nods gravely.
At that moment there is a knock at the door.
“It’s open,” calls Cynthia.
Tony Wong, whose flat is across the hall and who is landlord to Cynthia, Gina and Lucy, smiles and enters. He pads over the rug and holds out a bowl stacked high with pale brown crackers. “Would you like a fortune cookie, Ms Hall?”
I take one and pull out the little paper message, but it’s like one of those plot-halting moments. I can’t read a single word.
A true-life story of an author and her characters 😉