The “Magnum Opus”

Last night, post-dinner, unexpectedly we had a book discussion which I share in part here as it essentially went. Oh, and we were also drinking, you understand, too. The Mrs had a glass of lovely French wine, and I was consuming – of course – a brandy.

“Truth in alcohol,” so to speak? πŸ˜‰


“….So you got inspiration on the beach?” she remarked at the table, having seen me frantically typing away earlier. [I had been making notes about some important new subplot ideas.]

“Yes, something made me think….”

Proofing part of "Conventions" on the beach the other day. [Photo by me, 2016.]

Proofing part of “Conventions” on the beach the other day. [Photo by me, 2016.]

“It wasn’t that topless babe jumping into the Bay of Biscay?” she laughed.

“No, no, it was something made me think,” I noted, trying to be serious. “Maybe it was this area’s history. I don’t know exactly. I decided to transform a deceased brother, who isn’t in the book, into a war hero killed in battle, and he becomes important in the memory of the surviving brother who was a child at the time and he’s really important in the book. Years later, here in France, during the Revolution there’s a duel because there’s the dead brother’s honor involved. My head started spinning. I couldn’t wait to get back to the house to write it down.”


“Pistols,” I clarified.

“Eighteenth century guys with guns. Yep. Sure your male readers will like that.”

“I’m competing with Lee Child out there,” I joked, but was actually being half-heartedly serious. “Jack Reacher….” [Note: My wife is reading Jack Reacher books here in France on our holiday.]

“No, you’re not,” she stopped me. “You write far differently than that.”

“You read my blog,” I began to detail. “I joke about this next being a ‘magnum opus,’ but I do mean it. It’s the sort of book I’ve really wanted to write and hope readers love. I’m trying to take real historical people and weave them into a tale about fictional characters, using the real historical characters’ contours of their real lives as guidance. Sort of like The Winds of War but in the 1790s. I want this to be big and gripping. I even got the title from a comment made by a real woman historical character – ‘the garden at Paris.’ It’s meant to be partly ironic for my title: Paris was no garden in 1794. But I know what I don’t like about Winds and I’m trying to avoid that.”

“So there are women?”

“Of course there are women,” I laughed.

“And there has to be romance with them….” she raised her eyebrows.

“Yes, yes, sure there is,” I shook my head.

“It wouldn’t be one of your books if there wasn’t….” holding her wine glass, she needled me.

“But I don’t have as many women as in my earlier books,” I tried to return to being serious, “but I’ve got several really important fictional ones. I hope women readers like them and especially the men I’m writing. Writing for women in that era is really tough. They can’t be window-dressing, but women’s lives were truly circumscribed. They didn’t run around waving swords and guns and taking out baddies like in Hollywood fantasies. To pretend they did is to be historically illiterate. But the women were fascinating in other ways, exercising their influence behind the scenes in far more subtle ways…”


There was more, but that gives you a taste. Such is being a writer trying to “explain” yourself. It’s why you have to give us some space now and then, because often our minds are elsewheres…

Have a good Thursday (and first of September 2016), wherever you are in our world. πŸ™‚