Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Bookseller submission, Book One and HelenThomas.

There were three drafts of the submission Frank was making to the Bookseller. It did in fact almost run up to the deadline of September 21st, but made it in time.

The blurb was of course one issue, as well as finding the right wording to describe the nature of the novel. Of course the standard line about 'all characters are fictitious' had to come out!
 I added this: 

'Author’s note.

Most of what occurs in this novel is based on fact. All the characters were real people and their settings are real places. Extracts from their letters, books and articles are in their own words, italicised if exactly quoted, but also freely threaded throughout the text.  I have imagined many episodes and conversations as well as the thoughts of the protagonists, and so this is a novel, a fiction which is grounded in fact. '

Much more delay was due to a new confidence  in emphasising themes rather more strongly,  influenced   by thinking through Edna Longley and Robert McFarlane. I wrote about this yesterday and want to acknowledge them again.













 My own copies scanned



It was hard to stop and let go. But eventually the eighty pages of text were sent - the Prologue and the whole of the first Book,  set in Leadington in August 1914 (called Leddington throughout as Thomas usually spelt it.) Would the Paperback previewer really look through so much? - no, I was not naive enough to think that.
I have to wait for the November edition to know whether the novel made it to the  Bookseller  February publishing .preview.
About Helen Thomas:
I'm aware of not having referred to Helen here at all.
 She is a major character in the novel and especially prominent in  the first, Leddington, section. I have Helen 'write' in the first person, under the made-up title of a memoir, 'Half a kiss, half a tear.'
The real Helen divides opinion a good deal, and of course she had faults and limitations, but to me she is a sympathetic character and one I admire.
I haven't gone out of my way to be wary of her self-presentation in her book,  'Under Storm's Wing',  as I'm trying to allow her to speak her own version anyway. Instead I enclose and frame  'her'  invented  memoir, by beginning and ending it with chapters very close indeed to her own words.
That did bring up a question of  rights and acknowledgement. Although I had permission from the Thomas estate to 'quote whatever I liked', I did write out of courtesy to Carcanet, publishers of 'Under Storm's Wing,' to inform them of my substantial use of  'Under Storm's Wing.'
The poem: of course, the perfect
IT was a perfect day
For sowing; just
As sweet and dry was the ground
As tobacco-dust.

I tasted deep the hour
Between the far
Owl's chuckling first soft cry
And the first star.

A long stretched hour it was;
Nothing undone
Remained; the early seeds
All safely sown.

And now, hark at the rain,
Windless and light,
Half a kiss, half a tear,
Saying good-night.


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