Monday, 4 October 2010
Today is the official publication day for The Dead of Winter! I went into Cambridge with my wife and son and we saw copies in Waterstones and Heffers and had a chat with the lovely Kate Johnson about the launch event I'm doing at Heffers in November. More about that later.
It is one of the odd things about publishing that you are inevitably promoting a book that was written many, many months previously. The Dead of Winter was delivered and edited last year and my mind has been filled with Mister Creecher ever since.
It is possible to see the Tales of Terror books as historical fiction, as they are set in a Victorian past, and The Dead of Winter has a similar nineteenth century setting. But I don't think of them in that way. The Dead of Winter and the Tales of Terror books are really set in the world of Victorian and Edwardian English ghost stories.
This world of country houses, formal gardens, stuffy morning rooms, governesses and bored children, is as rich and as established in my imagination as the deep, dark woods of folk tales. The Victorian era does throw up many story ideas and give me the opportunity to place young people in lots of different - and dangerous - situations, but it is that heightened, fictional take on the period that interests me. I would hope that I do nothing in my stories that could not believably happen in that period, but the action in most of the stories takes place in a very enclosed world. The Dead of Winter is no exception.
The novel - and it is a conventional novel this time, rather than a group of short stories - is a first person narrative about a friendless orphan, Michael Vyner, who goes to stay with his strange and troubled guardian in a remote house in the fens. The house is like an island or a ship, surrounded on all sides by flatlands of ice and snow. It is also filled with mystery and secrets.
I will tell you more in the next post. . .