(Another follow up post Alcluith is progressing slowly can be found on this link as well.)
Yesterday I posted some of my own scribbles - Ygern's Secret - Something I Wrote. I really appreciate the wonderful comments that were left in response. But - now you have gone and encouraged me (you'll probably be sorry that you did!) and made me think of revisiting a book I was writing.
The little 'story' I posted yesterday was a self-contained idea that I never really thought of expanding on. The book is similar in many ways as it focuses on the same era. I started writing it when I was on maternity leave (in other words 14 years ago!). After fiddling around with it for some time and finishing a first draft I sent it off to one of the Irish publishing houses about 5 years ago. They rejected it out of hand (as you do). I put it to one side and it has been languishing in the documents folder of my laptop ever since. Now with the new self publishing options available I may just dust it off again and think of doing something with it.
For anyone who has the time, stamina and inclination I'm including the whole of the first chapter on a separate page. It will be warts and all as it stands now but I'd appreciate any feedback. Do I continue with it and try to polish it up - or should it stay put where it is?
The end of the first chapter is supposed to be a surprise so if you do want to read it and don't want the spoiler the link to the page is here:
A just and popular king is defeated and killed in battle. His pregnant wife is given clemency but the life of their unborn child hangs in the balance. Only a girl will be allowed to live. The queen manages to slip away and gives birth in secret. The child is a boy (of course or there would be no story!) Before his existence becomes common knowledge the queen exchanges her infant son for the newborn daughter of a serving woman and the boy is smuggled out to safety. He is raised in obscurity, unaware of his heritage, but once he learns the truth of his parentage he prepares to return to his kingdom, revenge his father and reclaim his birthright.
Besides thinking the story could be expanded quite nicely into a novel, what struck me about the ballad was the one dimensional characterisation. The queen in particular is quite remarkable - here is a woman who stoically accepts the death of her husband, gives birth on her own in secret and then gives up her child without batting an eyelid. Besides the narrative I thought it would be equally fascinating to explore the emotional response of the characters and their reaction to events.
I'd be curious to know if my blog friends think the idea (and my stab at interpreting it) has merit. Either way I won't be giving up my day job!
Real life Dumbarton Rock in Strathclyde - an actual location for a fictitious tale:
All the places referred to in the chapter with the exception of St Aidan's Field are real albeit heavily disguised by the mists of time. All the people and events are completely fictitious. (Some real historical characters sneak in later.) The names (I give an explanation of their meaning in the full version) are all representative of the time and location except for Rowallan - that is my husband's name and he is still unsure whether to take its inclusion as a compliment.
The story is called:
Tears on Stone
I've prefaced it (a bit pretentiously I suppose) with this passage from Ecclesiastes:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and time to die,
A time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
A time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
A time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
A time to embrace and a time to refrain,
A time to search and a time to give up,
A time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
A time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
A time for war and a time for peace.