That Dreaded Manuscript in Your Drawer: join Jane Austen and Pushkin in having a Manuscript in That Drawer of Doom

Alex2LargeItaliano(2)First of all, I’d like to wish everyone Season’s Greetings.

Then I’d like to thank Robert Wingfield of INCA for designing for me such a wonderful new cover for ‘Alex Sager’s Demon’.  Here it is, above. You can get it on:

http:/’www.amazon.com/Alex-Sagers-Demon-Pushkins-Nemesis-ebook/

or

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Alex-Sagers-Demon-Pushkins-Nemesis-ebook

I wanted to write a skit for a Christmas post, perhaps something on the lines of ‘Christmas at Castle Dracula’ or even ‘Heathcliff meets Arthur Huntingdon for Christmas cheer at Wuthering Heights’ or  some such,  but what with one thing and another I have run out of time.  Typical bad time management from me.

So instead, I will write about The Dreaded Manuscript in the Drawer.

I was thinking that for me, 2015 was the ‘Manuscript in the Drawer’ year. I put two of ’em in there. One 50,000 words, one 22,000 words. How’s that for wasted effort? And all done first thing in the morning before a cup of tea.

I’ve also got the opening chapters of a dystopia in there.

I’m halfway through writing the sequel to ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ and I have re-written the beginnings of ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ and of ‘Ravensdale’ and ‘Alex Sager’s Demon’, it’s true, so it hasn’t all been Writers’ Block and Consigning to Drawer of Doom for me. Still, I did write about a third each of two versions of the same Gothic story, and both led to prolonged writer’s block and finally were sucked into that Drawer of Doom, which is too often like a black hole for manuscripts.

Once through that good old event horizon and they are usually fated not to escape; too much heavy matter in there.

There was a purely comic and a darker version, and I think one of my resolutions for 2016 must be to draw one of them out, and bring it to completion.

This must be so common a fate for so many initially promising manuscripts. I’m sure many other authors have that manuscript in the drawer that they intend to get round to drawing out from the dustbin of history (perhaps these days, more take the form of abandoned files on the pc which are never printed out and don’t even get to the Shoved Into A Drawer’ stage. No doubt many are eventually deleted, accidentally on purpose).

It would be interesting if we all were to pull them out of drawers or locate those forsaken files in 2016, and see if we can overcome the problems that led us to abandon them.

I can’t help pleading on behalf of these unfortunate manuscripts, you know; after all, the problems that caused their creator to consign them to limbo may not have been insurmountable. Perhaps it was a case of that famous ‘wrong timing’ (Gets carried away) . Perhaps a little give and take,an acceptance that there were  faults on both sides (and other cliches) might be the best approach to adopt to resolve the conflict, and the best way to a creative solution? (Pulls herself together) What’s the matter with me? I’m talking about words, not people, even if those characters did seem vivid!

I’m always morbidly fascinated by the whole dismal matter of the Drawer of Doom. All  famous classic authors seem to have them; Pushkin relegated that unfinished robber novella ‘Dubrovsky’ to his, so that it was only published after his death, complete with the unabridged and convoluted legal document that comes in the middle.

I think it is a shame he abandoned it, as unlike some harsh critics, I loved it when I read it.  He was attempting to produce a work of literary merit which also had popular appeal, and that’s as laudable an aim as can be for an author; after all, it’s trying to emulate Shakespeare in a way. He wrote plays with an eye to popular success, though he just happened to be a genius.

Emily Bronte and Anne Bronte don’t have any unfinished manuscripts, for the simple reason that they urged their sister Charlotte to destroy their unpublished manuscripts after their deaths.

Jane Austen had three unfinished short novels, ‘Lady Susan’ ‘Sanditon’ and ‘The Watsons’. I am sure I am fairly typical of Jane Austen admirers in that I think that none of them deserved to go into that drawer, or anyway, to stay in it. I was particularly interested in ‘The Watsons’ when I read it, and wondered how the plot and sub plots would have worked out.

I am intrigued about some more deceased prolific authors, who were, shall we say, less perfectionist in their attitude to their work. For instance, Charles Garvice, who wrote 150 romantic novels during his writing career, or Barbara Cartland, who easily beat him with a total of 700 (but she did live until she was nearly ninety compared to his seventy).

Did they have their Manuscripts in the Drawer?

Perhaps, though, the Christmas and New Year round over, 2016 will be the year when through a strange process of synchronicity,writers all about the world will draw out those neglected manuscripts from drawers and open those long neglected files on the pic.  I will certainly try and do something with mine; that’s my writing New Year’s resolution. That, and finishing the sequel to ‘Scoundrel’.

Oh yes, and another one about time management.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Wintergreen’ by Mari Biella; Interview with the protagonist, Cat Armistead

Wintergreen Cover EBook 2The idlyllic English village below, complete with old fashioned telephone box , is unfortunately the location of a current murder investigation. The dead body of a local businessman, estate agent and wealthy landlord, Hugo Montbray, was recently discovered a local woods.

Skenfrith

I’ve bene lucky enough to be able to interview somebody actually staying in the area (aside: she also happens to be a journalist, and may be no easy subject, but here goes…).

Lucinda Elliot; Cat, I believe you are currently involved in quite a ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ type adventure down in the cosy English village of Wintergreen. A family curse, no less. That is a bit spine chilling.

Cat:

Well, I wouldn’t say I was involved, exactly. I mean, I just happen to be staying in a cottage not very far from where someone was found dead in suspicious circumstances. And yes, it would seem that there is a local legend involving a curse, but hey, I’m just a passive observer. It’s not my business to get involved, even if [she tries to look nonchalant as she flicks through a notebook] I’m a journalist and I’m always on the trail of an interesting story.

Lucinda Elliot:

Hmm. I suppose the local detective, Jake Fernsby, isn’t it, has told you to be noncommittal about it. Or maybe as a professional journalist, you are a little reluctant to give anyone else a story? Well, I’m not a journalist; I’m a part time blogger and writer of gothic. But perhaps, these days it amounts to the same thing in a way.

But to revert to my previous line of questioning – sorry, I mean, friendly chat, trying to put characters at their ease the way I notoriously do – I do know that there is a legend about a family curse on the male line of the Montbrays, because in the bad old days of the squirearchy one of them seduced and abandoned one local girl too many, and she put a curse on him.

Hey, that’s a great story for Christmas! I want to read all about it.

Cat:

All of that may be true, Lucinda. I couldn’t possibly comment about the status of the police investigation, not least because DI Fernsby is indeed playing his cards close to his chest. Besides, as you know, I’m off-duty at the moment and enjoying a quiet Christmas break with my family. I’m not planning to write a story about it, not even for the Festive season. [Looks thoughtful.] Unless, that is, it turns out to be a truly spectacular story of the type that I simply can’t ignore…

Anyway, the Montbray curse is well-known in the local area, so I won’t be treading on too many toes if I confirm that there is indeed such a legend. The Montbrays were always a colourful lot and, according to local gossip, if they weren’t cheating you, fighting you or stealing your money they were busy trying to sleep with you. Legend also has it that one of their many victims, a servant girl called Patience, invoked a terrifying curse upon the male Montbrays as revenge just before she hanged herself.

You’ve probably heard something like this before, which wouldn’t surprise me. Britain is full of these little myths, and few of them have any basis in historical fact. Interestingly, though, one Hugo Montbray recently met a sticky end, which some might take as evidence that the curse is still in effect.

Not that it’s any of my business, of course. As I said, I’m just here to enjoy a quiet Christmas…

Lucinda Elliot:

Oh, come on. That cliché about the leopard is applicable here. No doubt Jake Fernsby was off duty when I saw him talking to you. The two of you seem to be getting quite close, one way and another.

Cat:

[Blushing furiously] A policeman and a journalist? Are you serious? That would be a marriage made in Hell. And by the way, he wasn’t talking to me in any normal sense of the word. He was keeping tabs on me, just like policemen always do.

Lucinda Elliot:

[Under her breath] You’re a fine one to talk…

Cat:

Sorry, I didn’t quite hear that.

Lucinda Elliot:

Nothing. Just clearing my throat.

Cat:

Well, it’s true that I’ve met him on occasion. It’s impossible not to in a little village like Wintergreen, especially when he’s a world-class busybody.

Lucinda Elliot:

[Sniggers.] It seems to me that journalists don’t like being interviewed themselves. [Returns to the attack] But you are, after all, actually staying in Stable Cottage, and while you can’t accuse your landlady Lita McQuoid of being the over imaginative type, rumours circulate that it is the very place where the tragic girl hanged herself so long ago, now prosaically converted into a holiday cottage.

Of course, you never know with these business people. Lita may have spread that rumour about herself, to attract custom from bold, adventurous types.

Cat:

I’m not sure that Lita cares what kind of person stays there, as long as they pay the rent. Luckily, I’m not the superstitious type, so rumours about long-ago suicides don’t trouble me too much. I belong in a newsroom, not a gothic novel.

Lucinda Elliot:

It is never safe for a character to say that; after all, your fate depends on your author, and I see that you may be even be involved in a series.

Cat:

What?!

Lucinda Elliott:

What, you weren’t aware that Mari Biella was writing your story as an exciting seasonal mystery novella available on Amazon at a highly reasonable price?

Ah, she’s terminated the interview. ..But you can get this excellent Christmas read on:

and

 

New, Updated Version of ”That Scoundrel Émile Dubois ‘ Free 4-6 December and a Message from Kenrick to His Readers

EmileDubois-2500x1563-Amazon-Smashwords-Kobo-AppleA new and updated version of my first book, ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois ‘ is available on amazon now and will be free from Friday 4 December until Monday 7 September.

This version, in line with various criticisms from readers and fellow writers, introduces the occult elements of the story more quickly. That, and a few clarifications here and there, are the main differences from the first version, while the story remains essentially the same. I have also allowed Sophie to express some more annoyance with Emile’s impossible ways as he turns into a predatory, vulpine man vampire.

It’s available from amazon on: –

and

There is debate amongst authors about whether or not one ought to release amended versions of published works. There are those whose integrity I admire, who suggest it should be avoided. I personally take the line that it is best avoided, but sometimes is a good idea.

My approach is somewhat pragmatic; I want people to enjoy my stories; if a leisurely beginning detracts from that for a sizable number, and the quality of the piece won’t be
reduced by a faster start, then it seemed a good idea for me to re-write it in line with various criticisms regarding the first three chapters.

For previous purchasers who miss this promotion and would like a free copy of the updated version, please apply to me on this website, and I will be happy to send one.

Now, last week –

I have just been rudely interrupted by a glassy eyed, long toothed man who has appeared in m y mirror.

Kenrick:  I can’t have heard that description correctly.

I want to say here, that I hope that nobody takes such a biased account about my adventures as you will find in ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’ to be in any way fair or objective.

The handsome, charming Goronwy Kenrick – ‘florid’ ‘glassy eyed’ and ‘giggling’?

My risqué humour is depicted as purile; my overwhelming passion as a mania.

I should like to know why I, who am motivated by one desire, and that purely romantic – reunion with my lost and beloved first wife- have such pejorative descriptions applied to me?

At least I was never a cut throat in the gutters of Paris.

Fortunately, I have some well wishers. To those, I wish to do what I almost never do, and make an apology.

I must express my regret at the delay in my return.

Last year, I reassured my anxious well wishers that I intended to return betimes. So I do, and so I will, but firstly, I must overcome the various factors that have brought about my delay, including my need to invent a reliable number of – shall we say, ‘artificial men’ as a group of devoted retainers.

I did not expect these to melt away into puddles of tepid rubber, as happened with my first attempts. It was discouraging. But now I have a team of knights, whom I name after those the round table of old. Sir Kay, and Galahad, no less,  and others to come. At present I labour upon Lancelot, and have based his appearance on that comely rogue Arthur Williams.

You may recall that we ‘disappeared’ together. Yes, he is my companion here, and an increasingly grudging one, unfortunately. It’s dull for him, poor fellow. But he remains loyal to me.

For some reason, while back on the earthly plane, I always had problems with recruiting and retaining any sort of a household of servants, let alone a loyal one. I never understood it; I can only ascribe it to the spread of nonsensical ideas about equality, liberty and fraternity since the disgraceful uprising in France.

But I digress, and anyhow, I avoid thinking of anything French because it reminds me of that disgusting couple of French assassins, Dubois and that brutal fellow ruffian of his, who attacked poor Arthur even as the bandit chief made his murderous assault on me.

This is something like my image of Dubois Close, Emile's own house (then rented out) in North Buckinghamshire...
This is something like my image of Dubois Close, Emile’s own house (then rented out) in North Buckinghamshire…

Thus, I must return; and again, I will need Dubois, I fear.

I have been able to overlook him several times in his country seat to the north of the country of Buckinghamshire in England. I even penetrated to Madame Dubois’ bedroom.

There I heard through the insipid little thing’s prayers, for me amongst others. Meanwhile, I tried to draw her into this time warp; just a trial run, you understand… I lost contact as Monsieur entered.

If looks could kill, I thought as I saw him. But then I realised how lucky it is that mine could not, as I will have need of him – again. How unpleasant working with him shall be.

I wlll be re-united with my wife. Not in the next world, mind you, no. She spoke – well, no more of that. I will not hazard my fate on faith of that sort, and I refuse to swerve from my course, though those who go in dread of some sort of judgement after the death of the body would insist that I continuing on my course, I ensure that our parting will be permanent, or at least very long.

... -cut between distant regions of space-time - click for larger version

I have no such superstitious fears; it must be very unpleasant to have them, like that fine fellow Arthur. He still fears that we must be in a form of purgatory.

‘No, my fine fellow,’ I reassure him, ‘We are in a section of the time displacement; view it if you like, as a sort of mirror image of the material plane.’

He marched about, kicking out at things, which only dissolved as his foot met them. ‘But there’s only a few rooms here, and that bloody mist outside. There’s nothing to do, nobody to talk to…’

Actually, between you and I, there is much more; but I have my reasons for concealing it from him. One reason, is that I know that tiresome Captain Mackznie is out there somewhere, and I think, very possibly – but this is just between you and I — that late husband of my naughty little second wife Ceridwen.110px-Pierre-Auguste_Renoir_-_Torse,_effet_de_soleil

Yes, nobody knows the story of that disgusting libertine’s disappearance but the two of us…

I am called away, the material for the second stage of my work upon Sir Lancelot is ready. Ha,Ha. It is so funny, how like to Arthur I have made him.

Wish me luck on my return journey. It will be painful, as we will return to the injuries which those ruffians inflicted on us. But with a nice nourishing source of blood drawn in nearby, recovery will be speedy enough.Time travel 01.jpg

I will send Arthur first.