Goings on in June (and sneak peak Nanowrimo 2012)

I’ve successfully completed the first month of my ‘write a sentence every day for 12 months challenge’ with nearly 8,000 words written in June.

At the moment I’m concentrating on tying up all the loose ends in City of Djinn and bringing the novel to a satisfactory conclusion. For first time think I have a credible way to do this, barring one or two sticking points. I’m ignoring all the terrible, clichéd prose, the people who change name every time they appear, others who mysterious disappear, the fact clothing and climate show no consistency etc…

Yesterday I went to an interesting free talk at the Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross Road called ‘From page to publication‘. I’ll do a more detailed post at some point about what I learnt. I was also tempted by their excellent range of Osprey books. Osprey books are an invaluable aid to the pick’n’mix of ancient cultures I make liberal use of in my fantasy novels, being short snapshots that include many illustrations – both historical and artist reconstructions. I also bought a book about the Nazi occupation of France in WW2 to help me understand better what it is like to live in that situation. It was a documentary I saw several years ago about that very subject that was one of the main sources of inspiration for City of Djinn.

With four months still to go, I’m beating my own record for starting to plan what I’m going to write for Nanowrimo. The last three years my nanowrimo novels have been additions to already started novels. This year I’m in the position of needing to begin a new one but, at the same time, I don’t want to take on something too overwhelming as I’m trying to finish editing my other two novels. The answer is to write something fun about which I already knew a fair amount.

I’ve long been inspired by the origins of museums. Indeed, my First World War novel features the beginnings of the Imperial War Museum. In April this year I started work at one of the big old London museums and it was while on a behind the scenes tour the germ of an idea came to me. So here for the first time is the blurb (any and all of this is liable to change) for my new nanowrimo novel. I want to call it Monstrorum Historia, which has nothing at all to do with plot. Yet.

London, 1908. As the city prepares to host the Olympic games, Queen Victoria’s long illness draws to a close. Her granddaughter, the eighteen-year-old Princess Sophia, is being groomed to accede to the throne of the most powerful nation in the world. At the National Museum, William Barnaby, head of Special Projects, receives a battered crate. Sent by the disgraced and missing explorer, Raymond Harmor, and postmarked from the remote African colony of Ganwalya, its contents will send Barnaby and his assistant, the taciturn taxidermist Iris MacIlroy, on an adventure from the vaults of the museum to the very heart of Africa, uncovering a conspiracy that threatens everything they hold dear.

The eagle-eyed may have noticed that Queen Victoria was not strictly speaking still alive in 1908, thereby placing this novel in the alternative history genre. I’m hoping to make use of some of the knowledge about Edwardian (now Sophian!) Britain I gleaned for my WW1 novel.

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