alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Mostly today my work in progress was finding all my royalty statements and filling in my spreadsheet in order to be ready to do my self-assessment tax form tomorrow. Which was useful and even interesting work, but not the sort of thing that lends itself to an entertaining quote.

However, I did also do ten pages of editing on The Glass Floor, and solved the knotty problem of why there was only one magic charm available, and why – in that case – it wasn’t immediately given to the sultan. Poor old Zayd has found himself now officially without magic talent of any kind, but hey, he’s still the archmage. That has to count for something, right?

zayd

I’m coming into the final straits as far as the edits go, which means that the hardest bit is still in front of me. I wrote the final battles at double speed and as a result they don’t necessarily make much sense. Also the whole business with Frank’s father being coincidentally present is too coincidental, and will have to come out in favour of some stuff with magic mirrors and newspapers.

I was pleased to find that it passed the Bechdel test, though:

~*~*~*~

Off the side of the right hand aisle a series of carved oak partitions had been set up, marking chapels dedicated to individual saints and martyrs. They ducked into the smallest, where an all but extinguished candle gave out a dim storm light in its amethyst lantern, and a silver-mounted icon of Saint Parascheva watched them out of solemn painted eyes.

Ecaterina cast the veil back over her face. Mirela knelt beside her, and in the process of lowering herself she turned from girl to old lady, wrapped in black shawls, concealed beneath a heavy headscarf and a shape that proclaimed her of no interest to anybody. “I envy your gift,” Ecaterina said softly. “To pass unseen. I had to choose between peacock and gargoyle, and never truly wanted either.”

“Always the same on the inside, though, isn’t it? Who you are.”

Mirela exchanged a glance with the flat saint. The stuttering light made her eyes seem to stir. If Ecaterina looked at her long enough, it was as though her face bulged out of the frame, became rounded and real. She was listening, though she didn’t speak.

“About the monsters,” Mirela whispered. “My lord is taking them away. I thought you’d like to know that. We have wagons and everything arriving. I hear the idea is to jam them in, tight as in slave ships, in the bottom of the carts and cover them up with supplies. Then when the army gets down to the coast, they’ll sneak aboard ship and we’ll take them with us. So you’ll be all right, back here. They’ll all have gone to war, like the boyars.”

Ecaterina was ashamed of herself, because the first thing she thought was that the gypsy was lying. But lies ought to at least be more plausible than the truth, or how could they ever be believed? “How? How could he control them enough to do that? How could he get them to cooperate?”

Nightmares flickered into her thoughts like the death-throes of the candle. She saw again the look that had passed between Vacarescu and the strigoi in the white silk – the old man who had taken Stefan from his family, and walked beside him as a surrogate father.

A priest looked in through the pierced work carving of the wall. “Well,” Mirela clucked in mingled disapproval and amusement, just like an old lady sharing scandalous gossip. He shook his head, tolerantly, light running like quicksilver over his pectoral cross – the only part of his outfit that wasn’t black. All the colour had been sucked from Bukorest, it seemed. How appropriate.

“He brought the strigoii with him from Valcea. The white one and the lady. They listen to him, maybe a little. Though God knows for how long, now there’s only one of him and hundreds of them.”

Ecaterina took far too long to understand this news. Her father admired the man, had told her of his awkward reception to the prince’s court. The reason he’d given for not being seen in town before. ‘I have been containing a plague.’

The White Death had come to Bukorest, but days after he arrived in it.

Her teeth were chattering. She had to raise both hands and dig in her thumbs beneath the jaw to keep them silent, though the shudder worked through her wrists and arms and into her shoulders. The emotion she felt was still almost too big to put a name to, too big to be contained within herself – she felt it like a wall of fire around her ten paces deep. The altar was inside it, and the green-faced saint, and the sense of something teetering, teetering, about to fall.

Her father liked him. Had welcomed him without reservation, brought him into their house. She had liked him. He was the only one left who still treated her as he had before her glamour slipped – the only one who saw her as she was and was not repelled.

And why should he be repelled by anything human if his household was made up of monsters?

How smoothly he had lied when she asked about the old man, led her to believe he was an unpleasant surprise he found waiting for him when he moved in. She should have known the timing was far too coincidental for that. She should have known when he hacked her brother’s head off in front of her that he had no human sensibility in him.

But for him, Stefan would still be alive. The strigoi, oh yes, she could hope and plan for it to be destroyed, but it could not help its nature. It had little choice but to be what it was. But Vacarescu had chosen to expose her family to its notice – to expose all Bukorest to its curse.

Had Stefan done something to him, to be so targetted? No! Absurd. Stefan was the kindest child who ever lived. It was worse than that. Vacarescu had killed him and not even meant to. Simply did not care enough to make it stop.

The sphere of fire had reached its largest point – almost out to the street. Now it slowed, turned and rushed back together into a fireball centered in her gut. Every part of her felt incandescent like the sun with rage, powerful, unstoppable. I will kill him for this. I will have vengeance. For my brother and for every other mourner in the city today, I will have justice.

~*~*~*~

Which, when you have three heroes and two heroines turns out to be harder than you’d think.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

ottoman.sociallife.500

confirms what I already thought – which is that I love this book. Seriously, I am so excited about this one. This is probably bad news because it’s been my experience so far that the stories I’ve loved the most haven’t necessarily been the ones other people liked, but there’s not much I can do about that.

I’m 71 pages into a 180 page book so far. There hasn’t been a lot of hard editing yet – it’s quite a clean draft at the beginning, though I know it gets more snarly towards the end. It’s just way out of my experience that I’m still enjoying working on it. I do worry a little that it’s a mainstream fantasy with a (very low key) romance between its gay hero and its bisexual hero, and that it’s chock full of vampires (or, as I like to call them, strigoii).

Both of those things may make it a hard sell to mainstream Fantasy publishers sick to the pointy teeth of vampires, but I don’t care. This is one I really believe in, and will self-publish if it comes down to it. This is me taking a chance to do what I love, instead of sticking safely with what I’ve already done before.

But, God, it will break my heart if everyone hates this one. I’m almost scared to put it out there in case they do.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Firstly, thank you to Kaetrin for this lovely review of Blessed Isle

http://www.kaetrinsmusings.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/blessed-isle-by-alex-beecroft.html

 

Their story is full of adventure on the high seas, personal sacrifice and joyful love, in a time when they could not be open about it, where, if caught, they would face death by hanging.  It was bitter that they could not be free even in Rio about their relationship, but sweet that they found in each other, someone worth the risk.

I’m so glad that people are liking Harry and Garnet, and that the slightly experimental format of interactive diary-writing seems to be going down well, rather than putting people off.

skullicon

Secondly, ring out those bells, ring out those celebratory bells, for the first draft of The Glass Floor is finished at a respectable 135,870 words. I know there are things to add in the second draft – how Frank’s father knew to get to Istanbul on time, why Mirela decided to go home, when Nabih got the anti-mind-control charm to the sultan, whether Frank managed to rescue Protheroe’s notes or the bandits got them, what happened when Ecaterina’s beauty spell failed the first time – so it’s probably a good thing that it’s a Fantasy, where a length of 150,000 is my upper limit.

But still, before I start on the edits, I owe it to myself to write a couple of novellas now, just to decompress with something that isn’t going to take half a lifetime to finish.

Is The Crimson Haiduc a laughable title for a future novella? I love the word ‘haiduc’ (or hajduk, or hayduck) but partly because it does sound rather ridiculous. A haiduc is a Romanian outlaw/freedom fighter with all the glamour of a Robin Hood, and somehow neither ‘bandit’ nor ‘outlaw’ has the same romance.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Glad to hear that there’s good news from America both in virtue of elections and another couple of states allowing gay people to get married. American politics is not really my business, but with American publishers I feel I have a stake even if I don’t have a say in what goes on.

The purple waistcoat is finished and looks very smart. I must post a photo here when I wear it, which is likely to be for Mill Road Winter Fair. Now I just hope everyone else doesn’t go for purple too.

I have decided that 2,500 words is a good count in a day. Writing more per day definitely keeps up the enthusiasm – I’m still enjoying The Glass Floor, which is unheard of for me. 1,000 was easier, but it made the whole process so slow that it felt more laborious. I can do 3-4,000 if I really try, but that leaves no time for making lunch or…well, anything else at all. 2,500 during week days with weekends off = NaNoWriMo all year round, which should definitely up my productivity.

Speaking of The Glass Floor, I cannot believe it took until now for me to put ‘Lautari’ – the name of a Romany clan famous for musicians – and ‘Musica Lautareasca’ together and work out that Musica Lautareasca means ‘music of the Lautari.’ Eep! I know I don’t speak Romanian, but am I tone deaf for languages or what?

And speaking of productivity, I broke my 200,000 word target for the year yesterday. I know I’ve largely stopped blogging and tweeting and all that stuff, but this is why – major reassignment of my time and effort into the writing.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Well, it really is. Here I am, reading up on Romanian folk music, after having been informed that it wasn’t at all the same thing as the muzica lautareasca I posted about earlier – shame on me for propagating bad information – when I come across this:

YouTube Preview Image

and it turns out that here is another possible relative of the morris, going back into a dim and distant past in which we all lived in the forests together.

I don’t actually see much similarity, (other than the bells, sticks, crossed sashes, association with hobby horses, and possibly the pole… actually that’s quite a lot.) But the stepping and the figures are very different, and morris – as far as I know – never was a ritual dance, despite what the Victorians might have you believe. Still, I embrace the possibility if only for the sake of the warm fuzzies of meeting a distant family member you never knew existed before.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

OK, there may not be such a word as ‘bewonderment’, but I’m sure there should be. In this case I’m using it to mean ‘a state of wondering about’ my works in progress.

I’ve finally re-read Elf Princes’ Quest, which seriously still needs a better name. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. I laughed aloud in parts, and I stayed up reading late into the night because I wanted to find out what happened in the end. This is always a good sign.

The trouble is that it’s nothing like the kind of book that I might write. It’s the light-hearted elvish rom-com that Under the Hill was meant to be before UtH swallowed Bomber Command and turned into a two volume epic. It’s… it’s a meringue of story, where I normally make fruitcake. Meringue is a lovely thing, crisp, light and sweet, but when I’ve only ever offered heavy and rich before, people coming to me for Christmas cake are going to be disconcerted to get pavlova instead.

Enough with the comestibles! To speak more plainly, I mean that normally I do serious, earnest stuff, with themes and everything, whereas EPQ is a tongue in cheek romp with no deeper meaning at all. I am thinking that perhaps the thing to do is accept that it’s nothing like an Alex Beecroft novel and publish it under a different name.

The Glass Floor is just rubbing EPQ’s strangeness in, because The Glass Floor is doing my much more normal thing of ramifying beneath my hands: “But muuum, I don’t want to be a novella! Muuum, I want to be a trilogy. I want you to learn everything about the Balkans in the 18th Century. Why can’t you become an expert on the Ottoman Empire in a couple of weeks? They can visit the Sultan! There could be a cool scholarly antagonist who was a Turkish physician, and the second book could be from his POV, so we see that he’s a hero too….”

Radu doesn’t want to be the hero of some petty little domestic drama, he wants to FREE HIS PEOPLE FROM CENTURIES OF OPPRESSION. He’s decided that Dracula is his role model after all, and he’s somewhat peeved that he got named after Vlad’s passive, syphilitic little brother. (I keep telling him it’s only because I thought it was a cool name – you may have noticed that I like saying it whenever I can – but he’s not happy.)

Naturally, this means a complete re-plot. But I can handle that. I’m encouraged, in fact, as it’s very typical of my longer novels. To go back to the baked goods metaphor, it’s like adding yeast to bread dough and letting it rise, knocking it back and kneading it and letting it prove again. If a story doesn’t swell in the telling, I’m never quite sure if it’s properly alive.


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

So, I’m really enjoying writing The Glass Floor, despite the fact that my agent tells me vampires are passe and difficult to find a home for. And despite the fact that I said I would never write vampires, ever ever.

I should know better by now than to say things like that. It’s like a challenge to my muse. The beloved pesky creature pricks up its ears and goes “What’s that you say? You’ll never write vampires because you can’t see what’s so attractive about snogging a corpse? You strange person! I can see a dozen ways of writing a vampire story that don’t involve necrophilia, and now I’m going to suggest all of them to you, just to show you I can.”

If nothing else, the urge to write proper, traditional vampires has lead me to learn all sorts of things about Romania that I never knew before. I do like the armchair travel aspect of being a writer. There is nothing like researching a book to make you realise how wide and whacky this world of ours is, and how ignorant I am about most of it.

It also makes me appreciate Bram Stoker’s artistry in creating atmosphere in Dracula – the things he left out, and the things he infodumped. When I read his book, it does not come with Ottoman, Austrian and Russian politics. You’d never guess the Romanian princes were Greek servants of the Turkish empire imposed on them from outside, or that the country had been an Ottoman protectorate for centuries. All of which I find in equal parts fascinating and a bit too complex to easily get my head around.

Dracula comes equipped with a mental spooky soundtrack, including wolves howling and creaking doors, and possibly a lone, wailing violin in a minor key.

Mine will come with Romanian folk music, for the lulz (and the contrast.) I bet you never associated vampires with this

 

And yet from now on I always will. Oh Radu, no wonder you are angry all the time. You have a lot to put up with!


Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

alex_beecroft: A blue octopus in an armchair, reading a book (Default)

Heh, still trying to think of things to blog about over here, when really nothing blogworthy happens from day to day. (A fact I’m quite glad about. I know better than to want to live in interesting times.)

So, why not blog about what I’m writing? At least I should have more of that every week. And I have three works in different stages of progress at the moment, so there’s a variety to choose from.

Here we have something from today’s output on the new novella, tentatively titled “that vampire novella which, having just re-read Dracula, I’m fairly happy to say is nothing like it so far, even if it does have a hapless young man from England getting into trouble with bloodsuckers in the Balkans.” Or The Glass Floor, for short.


Read the rest of this entry » )

Mirrored from Alex Beecroft - Author of Gay Historical and Fantasy Fiction.

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