Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Perfect Hero & Seven League Boots

At last, I have a publication date for my next publication: October 2007, and The Perfect Hero will be available to download online from e-publishers New Concepts Publishing. I don't know anything much about e-publishing. I was hitting a blank selling The Perfect Hero because it is a Regency historical with shock, horror, no sex. There's some kissing, there's plenty of yearning and longing and passion, but the hero and heroine do not do the wild thing. And sadly, there's no market in the current publishing climate for a story with no sex. But NCP are willing to give this puppy a try, for which I am grateful, so I am happy to go along with e-publishing and see what gives.

I hope that I find some readers for it, because if enough people buy the e-book, then it shifts into a print copy, and that would be nice to go along with my four previous print books, but really, I don't mind. I now feel that The Perfect Hero is complete. So perhaps that clears the logjam in my brain that is keeping me from writing my next book.

Or that might be the research that I keep finding myself having to do to get into my world. Because when I write, it's like entering a world that I've created for myself - a bit Alice, a bit Narnia, a bit Wrinkle in Time in my own head, and then the world unfolds before me. So far, I've got lots of little sections of scenes all rolling around in my brain, but everytime I try and sew it all together into a seamless blend of plot, characterisation and something layered and interesting, bong, I bash into some totally minor detail that yanks me into the realisation that I don't know if my heroine could have done that... frex, if she was going to be sent off to a convent, how would it have happened, which has opened the doors on all sorts of arcane research. Another query was were tomatoes freely available in markets by 1595, or were they still a rarity? Imagine a time when a tomato was rarer than an egg or an apple, when it was served to nobles as a delicacy, a golden apple - the literal meaning of the Italian for tomato.

Then there was the whole business of how long it would take my heroine to travel from Bologna to Paris. A friend reminded me of Montaigne's Journal of his travels in Germany, Switzerland and Italy, which is the most marvellous account of travelling, and the first thing that struck me is that give or take, Montaigne and his friends and their servants and their luggage travelled pretty much 7 leagues a day. Sometimes they travelled a couple of leagues before dinner and then a full seven leagues after that, but mostly, it was a steady 7 leagues a day. Which reminded me of all the tales in which there are seven league boots, and they suddenly made sense to me. Imagine a boot that takes you in a single stride what it would normally take you a day to cover, no wonder these boots were so magical. BTW - a league is roughly 3.2-3.5 miles, or between 4 and 5 kilometres. A league is the distance covered by a man/horse walking for an hour, which is why it is a variable measure. So a day's travel is roughly 20-25 miles, or 30-35 kilometres. It would be a very long day in the saddle to get from Brussels to Antwerp, for example. Bologna to Milan is six days. Or six strides if you happen to have a pair of those boots.

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