It’s the anniversary of when the idea for The Differences first came into being. Whooohooo I hear you cry. Put the bunting out and crack open the bonios.
In fact the idea can be pin pointed to a specific place, scribbled on a paper napkin her at the Café Brasserie Le Palace in Quillan France, a sleepy market town we were passing through on a touring holiday in the Languedoc. Nicky and I were shooting the breeze about doing something different and the subject of writing a novel came up. “Ahh but you need a good idea to base it on.” said one of us. “Hmmm.” said another one of us. Five minutes later the idea of “Steam” was born
Back then it was more of a world building exercise. I had the idea of creating a multi-media universe that operated in multiple formats. Books, short stories, comic, film, TV etc. I would create the key characters, a basic timeline and the rules of the this pocket universe and invite others to contribute whilst I stayed on as a sort of editor in chief and arbiter of what was and was not appropriate and/or consistent with this imaginary world. Over the next few months a wrote a few outlines for how the new world would operate. My original intention for the novel I am currently writing was that it should be a series of linked short stories, a form of prequel showing how this alternate history came into being, the key “differences”. One of the essays to set up and explain this world was about Perrin’s first meeting with Babbage and was intended to set up a later story about an expedition to Africa.
However when I started this standalone piece I soon realised it was much better to start the novel there and explain its particular reality as I went on. This short piece has now become the novel proper and the idea of going back and writing a series of separate essays to explain it seems unnecessary and potentially rather tedious for the reader. They may appear one day as a sort of background reader, but don’t hold your breath. This original intention behind the stuff I was writing helps me now understand why starting the novel was quite difficult. I had not set out to write a novel so what I was writing initially was rather false as I have alluded to previously.
As to current progress. Well last week was quite productive, and the narrative stands at approx. 33k words and I have also finished a key section. In addition I a have now moved on to a bit of backstory narrative for one of the key characters basing it on a real (anonymous) person that can be found here. This has the added advantage of the use of real places adding a veneer of respectability to my hack paraphrasing. Oh and the Lucullus glaze has made an appearance too.
See you next week.