In The Cool Garden

At our new house here in Dartmouth

[Just after dawn. Dartmouth, Devon. Photo by me, November 30, 2022.]

…you may know (from other posts) there is a garden shed just outside the back door, has power and is seriously well-built, and even has a window that opens toward the hills across the way. You may also recall we decided rather than it being an “outdoor stuff” shed, that I would use it as a proper room instead. I placed my desk and much of my library in it, and it has now become my office.

[My office. Photo by me, November 29, 2022.]

Often when I am writing now, I forget I am in, well, a shed. LOL! The Mrs has joked that I imagine I am Bernard Shaw

[Author George Bernard Shaw’s writing hut. Situated in his garden at his Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, home. Photo by me, 2016.]

…who wrote cut off in that summerhouse above in his Hertfordshire garden.

[The inside of author George Bernard Shaw’s writing hut. Situated in his garden at his Ayot St. Lawrence, Hertfordshire, home, it also had a camp bed – seen to the right. Photo by me, 2016.]

Although I don’t have a bed as he did (I prefer to, uh, sleep inside the house), I do have a piece of an old sectional sofa on which to sit and read, or look out the window… and contemplate the universe…

This has been the coolest morning we have experienced since we moved here in August. It is only 4c outside currently. Naturally, when I first came in here earlier it was CHILLY…

[In my outside office, Dartmouth. Photo by me, November 2022.]

So I am pleased I have an electric fireplace (that runs off the house’s solar panels)! It is probably my best writing private office ever. No “procrastination” excuses now, I guess. LOL!

I am gradually getting on with something new. I have the main character… an American loyalist (meaning one who opposed U.S. independence from Britain) who ends up in England in 1783 or so – sort of a “reply” to what I had done in the last three books built around the rebel son. The most prominent woman (as of now) is a French artist, who ends up in England doing portraits of the well-to-do. (She is based more or less on a French acquaintance who I will never tell, although if she reads the book, which she might… she might, uh, well… LOL!) It is set mostly in and around here in Devon (and a few other places, but that may change).

That next novel will also definitely be shorter than my last three and also I think have less overt history (although history will still be interwoven into the story). I have in recent years had some private messages from (a very few) readers who more or less said they liked my previous books, but hinted they found them a bit “intimidating”: “big” and “complicated.” Unless it is insane, I always take even just one message as indicative of some others’ opinions I never see. (Although even one that is “insane” probably also in ways speaks for others.)

[From Tomorrow The Grace. On Kindle for iPad/iPhone. Click to expand.]

The possibility some would find it “too much” did concern me back when I was writing Conventions: The Garden At Paris in 2016-17. Knowing that you can never please everyone, of course, I went ahead because I wanted to move into writing books just like that one. I had joked on here I don’t recall now how many times that I pictured it as sorta my personal Winds of War or Gone With the Wind or War and Peace… and underneath that humor I was not really kidding. To illustrate better what I mean, if you have read it you may remember that above from its first sequel.

Re-reading that testy exchange now, some four years since I wrote it, I think it more or less sums up what those three novels are all about – war; travel; countries; perceptions; politics; division; men and women (although women then had no political power); love and friendships, and all that we all know goes with all of that (in any time and any place, really).

They are not novels meant to be read in an evening or two. They are intended to be “big” and “complicated” and to make us think. That is the point to them.

[Henry Sandham (Canadian), “The Coming of the Loyalists,” c. 1783. American refugees land in British-controlled New Brunswick, Canada. Painted between 1880-1910. Public Domain. Wikipedia.]

While it will (probably) not be on the same scale as my three previous ones, with the next I am still aiming to hopefully “immerse” you once more as well as make you “think,” of course. It is also time for something, I feel, brand new. I want also to provide some fresh perspectives and new characters – and you will start to see new bits from it on here shortly.

I am essentially starting from the beginning once more – as if it was again 2012 or 2015/16. That is fine: I do not want merely to keep rewriting pretty much what I have written before – something I see too many authors doing. No author ever entirely can escape from who they are, so there are bound to be similarities in any author’s various books; but I try always to bear in mind that if I have said it “once” that once is enough and I should now look to say something else.

On that note, have a good weekend, wherever you are. 🙂


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