After confessing to my less than uplifting news a short while ago – that I had to jettison 40,000 words of the novel I’m working on at the moment – due originally, no doubt, to my usual disorganised habit of not writing a plan – I am happy to give some good news.
That is that ‘The Villainous Viscount’ has won one of the coveted a BRAG medallion.
Thinking of it, and the pleasure I got out of writing it, has reminded me of one all important thing about writing which writers should never forget.
It is too easy as a writer to get so drawn into concentrating on concerns about honing one’s writing skills, comparing forms of promotion and debating how how far to use ‘social media’, fretting over sales figures, the increasing difficulties of obtaining reviews, the need for research and so on, that you forget something that you never should forget: that joy in writing.
I loved writing that story about the Curse of the Venns, and the memodramatic haunting of all the main perpetrators of a crime in the France of the Ancien Regime, and the appearances of the Hooded Spectre (complete with clap of thunder and flash of lightning):
‘“Clarinda, you remember that you were the only respectable young lady who spoke kindly about poor Foyle’s death. You were not cold and implacable, then.”
Her lips thinned. “I am only so now in refusing your offer of marriage.” He dropped her hands.
“So be it, Ma’am.” Too outraged to make the normal civilities, he turned away.
A flash of lightning outlined the window, where a hooded, cloaked figure appeared, suspended on the air. It extended one skeletal hand as if reaching towards them and vanished even as the thunderclap came.’
I enjoyed writing about those highly contrasting characters, the down-to-earth, kind hearted Clarinda Greendale. It was great fun to write about the eponymous Villainous Viscount Harley Venn, wholly disreputable, given to every sort of wildness and excess, but good humoured in his own clareless way, as is shown by allowing his manservant’s impossible small children to live with them, wreaking havoc:
‘ “There’ll be no fire in your study… Your Honour,” drawled the man, who never called Venn either ‘My Lord’ or ‘Lord Venn’, almost as if he suspected him of being an impostor, while he often paused before saying ‘Your Honour’. “My lad followed the girl in there when she was banking it up, and was after hurling a jug of water over it before she could stop him. Practising for them bloody duns, he was.” A look of pride softened his face.
“Curse you, I’ve told you to keep the little brutes out of there,” Venn sounded resigned.’
I borrowed Harley Venn’s habits of routine drunkeness, love of pugilism and brawling of dressing as a costermonger from the fascinatingly melodramtic 1894 novel The Outcast of the Family Or A Battle Between Love and Pride by the Victorian writer of best sellers, Charles Garvice, laughing as I did.
There is in fact a serious core at the heart of the story – the tale of the forced abduction, twenty years earlier, of the young country girl Rose by Harley Venn’s uncle, egged on by his debauched friends. I loved writing that part as well.
Thinking of this makes me all the more determined to shrug off my frustration about the difficulties I am having in resolving the problems with the plot with my latest. I had these same delays and difficulties with The Villainous Viscount Or the Curse of the Venns, and sorted them out eventually.
With any luck I will do the same with this one, and meanwhile, I should make the most of the pleasure of writing it.
For those readers of this blog who write, and are interested in submitting their novels to the BRAG website, the link is here