A nice little bookshelf

Last month I realised I didn’t have a full set of all my novels in print, and none with the new covers, so I bought one of each off CreateSpace*.

Here’s my tiny bookshelf:

6 books by Lee McAulay and Vita Tugwell

I’m pleased with the covers but some of the interior files can be smartened up. I uploaded The Bead Merchant in 2012, for goodness’ sake, and not only have ebooks moved on since then, my interior layout skills have improved too.

For the sake of the postage I decided not to buy paperback copies of the Petticoat Katie short stories I put in print, although that would be instructive as – again – I uploaded some of those in 2012, before I began writing Maiden Flight.

But half a dozen novels isn’t enough.

It’s barely the foundation of a body of work.

Half a dozen novels, not even under the same name, not in the same series or universe. A bare scratch in the surface of literature, of whatever definition.

A handful of blocks to build a cathedral, one word at a time.

Back to the writing desk.


*You can do the same here.

Published in: on March 11, 2015 at 12:00 am  Comments (2)  
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Shadowbox: The Maps I Used In 1832

SHADOWBOX takes place in two cities which have very different characters, even in 1832.

Paris, and London.

Both cities are long-established national capitals. Paris has a head start on London, having been absorbed into the Roman Empire earlier by sheer geographical proximity. Over the course of a couple of millennia, both cities were shaped by their landscape, their people and by their wars.

La Bièvre, by Charles Marville c.1865

La Bièvre, by Charles Marville c.1865

While I’m acquainted with the streets of central London (to a very limited extent) from the time I worked in Southwark, as well as visiting for shopping or the odd night out, I have next-to-no knowledge of Paris.

The only time I visited the city for any length of time, other than passing through, was in 1990. At that time I was on a budget that makes austerity look positively decadent.

The other few times I’ve been through Paris, it’s been a short trip on the Metro from the Eurostar at Gare du Nord to one of the other international stations. Not much time for dawdling when you have a sleeper to catch…

On the other hand, my knowledge of London also consists of traversing the city from modern transport hubs to specific other places – museums, offices, a friend’s house, shops. I haven’t the innate knowledge that someone has when they’ve lived in a place all their life, or even just taken the time to explore their neighbourhood on non-motorised transport.

Street Scene in London with Saint Paul's Dome. by Samuel John Hodson (1836-1908)

Street Scene in London with Saint Paul’s Dome. by Samuel John Hodson (1836-1908)

So…

I needed maps.

And guidebooks.

And possibly a trip to visit Paris, although I haven’t made it so far.

In the event, mainly to stop using the lack of a Eurostar ticket as an excuse to stop writing, I made do with a number of online and offline resources that I hope have given me enough flavour of the city to paint its details in words for the reader without affecting the story. For example, is it essential to tell you that:

  • Belleville and Montmartre are in their own respective arrondisements, when those parts of the city don’t feature in the novel?
  • the Ile de la Cité is covered with telegraph wires (which it wouldn’t have been in 1832)? and
  • semaphore towers stretched across the country from Marseilles to Cherbourg, hubbing at Paris Montfaucon (an early technology abused to such devastating effect in The Count Of Monte Cristo)?

Readers only need to know details when they act in service to the story. While factoids like those above are fascinating, if they don’t help me paint you a picture or tell you a tale, I’ve left them out.

So, to the maps.

How far back did I have to go? And how detailed?

First off I found a very basic map of Paris, showing the Ile des Cignes. One of the Seine’s smaller islands, downstream of the heavily-fortified Ile de la Cité, by 1832 this had pretty much been joined to the mainland.

While the Ile des Cignes has some nice supernatural echoes, it isn’t significant in the city’s cosmopolitan circles – the circles within which Charles Lyell and Louis Beauregard mingle, along with Adolphe d’Archiac, Garibaldi and other notables.

Then I took a download of the Plan de Paris en 1787 par Brion de la Tour, and examined the basic street layouts. Much of the streetage in the centre of Paris was laid out by Henri IV in the early 1600s, and wasn’t significantly disturbed until the reforms under Hausmann following the revolution of 1848.

The French revolution of 1848 at the age of the sage site

Lamartine in front of the Hôtel de Ville, Paris, on 25 February 1848, refusing the red flag, by Félix Philippoteaux

But there’s a huge gap between 1787 and 1832 – 55 years, in fact – during which the political landscape changed significantly in France. Did it affect the geography of Paris?

Then I found the highly useful oblique projection of the Plan de Turgot, which shows what sort of farms and houses and river traffic to expect in Paris in 1832. You can see how much detail the map-maker has included, although the scale of this map isn’t great.

The map that gave me much more was the Picquet map of Paris 1814. The link takes you to the wikipedia page for the the full map, which is a massive 89Mb. It’s closer in date to the time of SHADOWBOX. The file is larger, which means you can see more detail. For example, look at the little trees and furrows of the market gardens in this sample:

The tributary rivers of the Seine are clear, and the barrieres across each major road. I originally mistook these for the barricades of the revolutionaries, but after a bit of rootling around I realised they were more like the turnpike gates of Britain.

For London, I used a WikiPedia download of the 1848 Crutchley Pocket Map of London (again, another large file).

This was one of the maps I used in 1888 when I was editing THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN, but there was more in common with 1832 than the later period.

In 1848, for example, there was still an open square of parkland in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which had mostly disappeared under buildings by 1888. The railway stations had yet to be completed in 1848 – but in 1832, they didn’t exist, so where they do appear on the map I had to ‘imagine’ them away, or avoid the area altogether.

Goodmans Fields

What I do find rather interesting is how both London and Paris developed most strongly on their northern banks. The Tube map of London shows this most clearly. The map of the Paris Metro doesn’t have the same projection.

But the reasons for that development aren’t found on any maps.

“London is a riddle. Paris is an explanation.” ― G. K. Chesterton

I adore maps. I’m grateful to my childhood geography teachers for showing me the language of maps, how to read within their folded sheets the secrets of cities and landscape and geology, developed over centuries.

I like being able to see the history of a place laid out in its streets and gardens, the names and patterns of all ages mingling to bring each town and city a flavour of its own.

And in 1832, both Paris and London had very distinctive spirits, as well as similarities.


Next: The 5th post in the SHADOWBOX series: Rivers of Paris, Rivers of London, a supernatural and physical journey across time and faith.

Join me on the trip by subscribing to the RSS feed or sign up in the form on the right to receive posts by email. And bring a lantern.

P.S. If you want to find the rest of the posts in this series so far, click on the link to the SHADOWBOX page. When the novel’s available I’ll add links there too.

Shadowbox: Germinal 2

In Germinal 1 I described how the story of SHADOWBOX developed from its earliest beginnings to the point where I knew what I wanted to write – what story I wanted to tell. But still I held off, unwilling to start writing until I had a framework – a storyboard – a script for the action.

In THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN, in keeping with the novel’s theme of a Sacred Kingship attuned to the tidal waters of the Thames, I deliberately set the action against the schedule of a complete tide cycle, 24 hours from high tide to high tide. The constriction set the pace for a novel that dealt with action, adventure, peril.

SHADOWBOX is different.

Night: Seaport by Moonlight (1771) by VERNET, Claude-Joseph Oil on canvas, 98 x 164 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris

Night: Seaport by Moonlight (1771) by VERNET, Claude-Joseph. Oil on canvas, 98 x 164 cm Musée du Louvre, Paris

The overwhelming emotional drive of SHADOWBOX is the grief cycle, the adaptation to change and how different people deal with that in different ways. Grief takes time to manifest itself. I couldn’t cram the action of SHADOWBOX into a single day, nor even a weekend.

I needed more time.

Tied to this was the simple fact that Louis Beauregard travels from England to France. In 1832, this wasn’t as easy as hopping on the Eurostar. Dickens describes the journey in near(er) contemporary terms in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, and on that basis I knew that, again, I needed more time.

Then I remembered the elemental nature of the world I’d created.

The Sacred King – Le Roi Sacré – is attuned to the tides that affect the River Thames in London. The events of THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN take place over one tidal cycle, at the Spring Equinox. The one overarching, controlling factor in all this was clear:

The Moon.

Instantly, I grasped that a full month was the timescale I needed. My characters would have time to experience all the stages of the grief cycle in the 28 days, even if the timescale was too short for their grief to run its course.

From Full Moon – when madness stalks the earth – through the utter blackness of New Moon, when the night sky is darkest. A time of spiritual descent into shadow. Of light diminishing, of darkness, of utter annihilation.

But New Moon is also a time of renewal. A time when ideas, like seeds, sprout and grow, culminating in fruition at another Full Moon.

A month – a lunar cycle – gives my characters the opportunity to live for a little while with the consequences of the novel’s founding action.

A month is long enough for Louis to travel to Paris and for Godfrey to develop a life beyond his youthful parameters.

A month is long enough for grief to work on them both.

And thus, with this structure in place, I began to storyboard the novel which became SHADOWBOX.


Next: The fourth post in the SHADOWBOX series: The Maps I Used In 1832.

Join me on the trip by subscribing to the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter (where I’m @LeeMcAulay1) to receive notification of the latest posts. And bring a lantern.

Shadowbox: Germinal 1

I had the idea for SHADOWBOX in 2010, after I’d finished the second or third draft of THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN. The character of Louis Beauregard fascinated me – here was an elderly man, still vigorous, in an unusual situation. Questions began to from in my mind.

Who was he?

Where did he come from?

How had he become the head of the shadowy organisation known as the Cuckoo Club?

As I’d written THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN, some of those questions were answered – briefly, the way you’d refer to Ian McKellen’s Richard III to put his Gandalf into context, or Christopher Lee’s Saruman in the shadow of Dracula, and Scaramanga, and Lord Summerisle.

Ian McKellen. Richard III.

I knew Louis was sprightly. I knew he’d had a long eventful life. When I wrote ALL ROADS LEAD TO THE RIVER I shaped him up to face his future, to make him become the man of THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN. And there I saw a glimpse of the man he’d been before.

So SHADOWBOX became a story of the young Louis Beauregard, when his position as the Sacred King was a fixed part of him, but he’d yet to fully adapt to the challenges of his destiny. He had to have a life, and I already knew he was privileged. So I asked more questions of myself:

– what was he like, this young rogue?

– what makes a character roguish?

– how would this express itself in its period? How does one become a rogue of the 1830s? When all around is excess?

In order to find out, I had to investigate the times. My notions of the 1830s were way out. I had to remind myself that this wasn’t Pride & Prejudice bonnet-land, nor the preRaphaelites, nor Restoration. Deciding the time period was just one element of the story.

And then there was the conflict within the story. Conflict forces the action. It’s the trigger event that makes things happen, that gives us a story to follow in the first place, that keeps us turning the pages until The End.

This is where Godfrey Woolverham comes in. He started out as Pawel Czerczy, a goldsmith, a man who was wronged by Louis Beauregard. The conflict at the heart of SHADOWBOX was always there in my early plans. But it took a while to work that conflict into a shape I could write a novel around.

The key to this was the Amber Room of Peter The Great.

In THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN, Sylvester de Winter roams London in an amber-lined coach. Something about the material properties of Baltic amber had a pivotal impact on the world I had created, and this conflict and impact could be used as a plot device.

And thus the amber carvers arrived in SHADOWBOX, to give the story a point of intrigue, a hook, or maybe a MacGuffin. The real story began to spin off, away from a simple tale of supernatural mystery and into a deeper analysis of the conflict both main characters suffered as a result of the novel’s founding event.

Godfrey and Louis were set on a collision course of death and murder, and nobody could stop them.


Next: The third post in the SHADOWBOX series: Germinal 2, deciding the timescale of the novel and other matters.

Join me on the trip by subscribing to the RSS feed or sign up in the form on the right to receive posts by email. And bring a lantern.

Shadowbox: Bienvenue

This is the first in a month-long series of posts about my forthcoming novel: SHADOWBOX (currently in pre-production for release by the end of June).

Set in 1832, SHADOWBOX is a story of loss and revenge. Excess and obsession. The damage a man does to his soul by refusing to accept change.

In this series of posts you’ll find the story of how the novel came about, the historical research that hopefully found its way onto the pages of SHADOWBOX, and links to places you can discover more. Remember to subscribe to the blog if you want to read the latest updates.


SHADOWBOX: An Introduction

One of the joys of being a historian is the ability to time travel. To go back in time, shedding the veneer of centuries, picturing people much like those we already know in situations very different to our own.

SHADOWBOX could be classified as historical fiction, but the elements of myth and magic within the story produce a Gothic flavour, a gaslit fantasy of Greek tragedy and exuberant adventure that mixes fiction with real-life characters in the usual speculative tradition.

The novel deals with a number of themes – death and revenge, excess and obsession, lust and hatred and fear and grief. It wasn’t an easy story to write. At times I wondered whether I should give up and go write something happy, with sunshine on every page.

But I realised there were important things I wanted to say in this novel, not just because the story forms an early, formative part of the life of Louis Beauregard – one of the protagonists in THE LAST RHINEMAIDEN. Sometimes you have to ask a lot of questions before you understand what your real problem is.

1832 was a strange place. Looking back almost 200 years, much has changed in Britain. For one thing, the UK had a king and an Empire that started with Ireland, something odd to those of us who have grown up knowing only Elizabeth II as monarch and a British Commonwealth.

SHADOWBOX takes place in Paris too. And Paris, in late 1832, was a much more peculiar place (to this author at least), its population repressed after a notable uprising and a disastrous cholera epidemic, ruled by a Bourbon king, the city as prosperous and lively as London.

I did a lot of historical research for this novel. Some of this has already appeared, before I wrote the story, in posts such as Giovanni Belzoni Gets A New Assistant and First Steps On The Journey – 1842. As well as (hopefully!) finding its way into the novel without overwhelming the reader, the historical research was great fun.

As I said at the start of this post, one of the joys of being a historian is the ability to time travel.

One of the joys of writing historical fiction is the ability to take other people with you.


Tomorrow: The first post in the SHADOWBOX series: Germinal 1, covering how I came up with the idea for the novel and the first steps I took in laying out the story.

Join me on the trip by subscribing to the RSS feed or sign up in the form on the right to receive posts by email. And bring a lantern.

First steps on the journey – 1842

It seems like an age hence that I was using up spare leave from the Day Job to swan around Georgian England. April, in fact, and the weather was balmy – one day we had rain, and when I was in London it was sunny.Dodwell & Pomardi party on the Peleponnese. No, I'm just making this up...

The museum visits – Belzoni’s sketches of Seti I’s tomb, the drawings of Dodwell and Pomardi – are still fresh in my mind. I can picture the roads they walked on. I see their own depictions of their clothing. Prosperous men, making a slash in the world’s perception.

Of the houses from that time, I saw the Georgian House in Bristol, and was reminded of the tenement flats of Turin and Glasgow, large rooms with tiny fireplaces and high ceilings.

Ornate plasterwork on the cornices. Chinese or Japanese fabrics on screens, on lacquerwork furniture, on fine bone china.

Silk, embroidered, the work of tiny hands, a nation’s wealth in fabric sheer against lined paper walls and painted wooden balustrades.

Homes built on slavery and trade of other sorts.

Small piano-type instruments, keys of ivory not yet scarce; books the size of a card-table spread open at hand-painted birds of paradise from the Indies. Animal products from far-off lands where the people are different from us.

Wigs to be powdered, pearls to be worn by the maid before the lady of the house entertains.

Pero.

The wealth of merchants and the asceticism of Methodists, the freshness of plantation sugar and the new industrial works roaring beside canals dug by Irishmen on government subsidy through newly-enclosed land.

Books, the rare stories treasured, the poetry mad-bad-and-dangerous-to-know.

The loss of the New World still stinging.

Since then, I’ve read a little of the period’s surviving literature – Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield – and boned up on history. I’ve developed a feel for the society on the cusp of a new age: leaving behind the excesses of the Georgian period and setting forth on the fecund part of Victoria’s reign. A transition from one form of the British Empire to another. A rise in mercantile power, in global reach, in ebullient confidence.

A formative part of the national psyche, in fact.

I’ve explored modern perceptions of the period too, between the pages of Queen Victoria’s Book Of Spells and Mysteries Of The Diogenes Club, and social history such as the Chartists, to bolster my earlier reading of Robert Louis Stevenson and The Coral Island and The Water Babies and a bundle of other books that all squidge together in the memory. I know I’ve missed out a lot. That will come, as it’s needed.

In doing so, I’ve built up a picture – a landscape not unlike those sketched by Dodwell and Pomardi. A schema, similar to that Belzoni made of the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs for touring Europe, raising funds for his next expedition.

I’ve created a background against which a story can take place.

This is the world of the young Louis Beauregard.

And he has just begun to stride across it, heading for his destiny.

Beasts Of The Northern Wild

One day in the summer of 1990, not long after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a group of archaeology students drove across England at stupid o’clock in the morning in a brand-new minibus stuffed with excavation equipment. I was one of them, straight off the train from Glasgow and a few weeks of catering work to pay my expenses.

We had breakfast in a trucker’s cafe in Dover before taking the ferry across to Zeebrugge, then driving on the Wrong Side Of The Road to the Museum of Ice Age Archaeology at Monrepos, in Neuwied, Germany.

“Monrepos is one of the leading institutions for the research of early human history” – Wikipedia

The Schloss, perched on one of those rocky outcrops that seem to dot the German countryside, is a magnificent mansion set in woodland high above the town. We spent the night lulled by red wine and wood-fired pizza, rolled in our sleeping-bags in what had once been the castle’s hunting-lodge, the trees beyond our window sleepy with birdsong.

Before we set off the following morning, we had a private tour of the Museum für die Archäologie des Eiszeitalters, to give it its German title. As the town’s website says:

“The museum focuses on the culture of hunters and gatherers in this region up to 6000 BC”

And the museum is crammed with mammoths.

Max the Mammoth of Monrepos

I was halfway through my degree, studying prehistory and human evolution and environmental archaeology. With its cave paintings and Venus figurines and scarce traces of humanity, combined with my recent devouring of Jean M Auel’s Clan Of The Cave Bear, the Upper Palaeolithic was one of the periods that had me hooked.

Maybe it always had.

As children we learned about woolly mammoths at an early age (even before the Ice Age films were made). Maybe it’s a Scottish thing. The Ice Age is a prominent feature of Scottish geography. Our hills and mountains, our cities, our broad flat plains, are all shaped by glaciation, and none of it – the trees, the boggy moorland, the fertile valleys and deep lochs – existed ten thousand years ago.

Scotland doesn’t have fossils like those at Neuwied. Ours are older, and lie much deeper, in our ancient rocks. Compared to most of Scotland’s fossils, woolly mammoths and human settlement are impudent upstarts.

And I find them fascinating.

At Monrepos most of the museum’s exhibits come from rich deposits in the local landscape. Vast bonefields of ancient animal fossils from the last Ice Age and the previous interglacial period, early human habitation, Neanderthals – all of these are abundant in the area around Neuwied. Six hundred thousand years of the past.

A Lost World.

I’m haunted by the notion of great beasts roaming the frozen north when humans were few and the world’s climate was different. No forests across Europe, just a frozen sea and a wide, barren snowscape where Doggerland was just another hump of land under the ice sheet. No towns, no farms, no trees or little rivers.

Wilderness. Emptiness. Ice. And beasts  of the northern wild.

I know I’m not the first to be fascinated by the idea. Humans painted great art on cave walls while mammoths roamed Europe. We carved figurines from their ivory, made shelters from their bones, and we must have spun great stories about their spirits, even if, as some prehistorians postulate, most people might only have seen a woolly mammoth once in their entire life.

I’m not versed enough in extinction theories to work out whether human activity influenced the decline of mammoths and the other megafauna of the Ice Age, or whether the creatures were doomed to decline through the effects of climate change on their habitat. All I know is that they survived long into human history, and I’m utterly enchanted.

Before the mammoths all died out we’d built pyramids in Egypt, fought wars in Mesopotamia, cast bronze in ancient China.

While mammoths still lived on Wrangel Island, isolated in the Arctic, we laid the foundations of Troy.

We built Stonehenge before the last small mammoths died.

But human history is chock-full of extinctions. As the presence of modern humans spread across the continents, the megafauna disappeared.

Fossils and folk-tales and fantastic monsters took their place, from the Cyclops of Odysseus to the Oliphaunts in Lord Of The Rings, great mystical creatures which once were commonplace and now are scarce, hunted to extinction or lost when their habitat was altered. A different world, through which a warm wind blew. It’s a theme that runs strongly through The Last Rhinemaiden and the associated Cuckoo Club stories.

My fellow students and I left Neuwied and its fossils behind as we headed for our excavation in northern Italy the following morning.

But some of the museum’s magic entered my soul, not simply with the notion that if I studied hard enough I might someday find a job in a marvellous institution like Monrepos (I didn’t). Tugging at me, like the wind across a tundra, was this imagined world of ice and monsters and the loneliness of sentient creatures left behind when all others of their kind are gone.

And thus, there, in a magical place near the River Rhine halfway between Frankfurt and Cologne, The Last Rhinemaiden took her first steps towards the Cuckoo Club.National Geographic: Ice Age Meltdown

Ice Age Art

The effects of the last Ice Age on the North Sea and its tributary rivers are the keystone to the alternative history I created for The Last Rhinemaiden and the Cuckoo Club stories.

But the Ice Ages which covered much of northern Europe with glaciation has been a minor fascination of mine since I learned about them at school. (Scottish geography lessons about the Würm glaciation tend to be very simple – “here’s what it says in the book, now go look out the window and spot drumlins“).

Scotland didn’t have much in the way of human habitation during the Ice Ages. Most of the country was covered in a thick layer of permanent ice, many metres deep. The slate (and granite) wiped clean.

There were no Neanderthals in Scotland. Far, far to the South, in the Perigord region of what is now France, they lived in caves in limestone cliffs along the rivers which run out to the Bay of Biscay and never saw the need to travel north.

And then, modern humans arrived in their valleys. Was this a shock, or did they know in advance, and retreat ever westwards until they ran out of land at Gibraltar, leaving little trace behind?

I’ve just finished reading The Mind In The Cave by David Lewis-Williams. He postulates that the prehistoric artists who painted cave art had the same brains as modern humans – because they were modern humans.

So while we don’t know the stories they told to accompany their illustrations, we can take a good guess at the reasons why those people painted their fabulous paintings on the deep cave walls.

And tucked into the sheltered caves south of the great ice sheets, modern humans left art.Cave art from Lascaux, France - giant prehistoric deer

What does this have to do with writing?

The history of Science Fiction is shot through with stories about the search for other intelligent life, in space or in the far future or in a parallel universe.

The search for life on Mars has propelled spaceships to the red planet and beyond, to where telescopes point to planets in distant galaxies with the potential to support life.

Folk tales of the “Little People”, Trolls, Elves, man-apes, Yetis, the Orang Pendek, and myriads of other names for not-quite-human peoples which might still walk the Earth are abundant in every culture.

How much of a Big Deal is this?

We have been looking for another intelligent life form on the planet since the first creation myths were invented.

In the last ten years or so, evidence has been found that modern humans aren’t the Big I Am we thought we were.

The humans who came before us had quite a bit of what makes us special.

If the research can prove that Neanderthals made art – even simple art forms like hand prints and shapes which might have been a language of sorts – what about their ability to tell stories?

Makes my brain sizzle.

When it’s done, it’s done…

Over on the Book View Cafe Blog I found this post on When A Story Isn’t Ready, by Deborah J Ross.

Deborah says:

Most writers who have been at it for any length of time have the experience of a story not being truly finished. It may come to an end, but it has not yet come into itself…

…Working on something else gives “the back” of our brains time to work, for ideas to ferment and percolate and for new patterns and solutions to emerge. Alas, this process can take years, which is why it’s a good idea to dive into the next project and then the next.

…Sometimes it’s me, the writer, who’s not ready to tell that story. Usually this is because my writing craft isn’t adequate to the challenge. This is particularly true if the story is a “high wire act,” requiring great skill and subtlety.

I felt that way about my most recent novel, “The Last Rhinemaiden”. It took three years just to develop to a stage where I wrote it; then I kept adding to it, layer by layer. It’s done now. I dare say if I left it alone for another ten years I might make it a better story, but maybe not.

I want to move on, to leave it as it stands and improve my writing. I saw The Last Rhinemaiden as my Big Idea (and it was while I wrote it); now it’s just a story. I’ve done the best I can, with the skills I have, but my development as a writer won’t come through mucking about with it, or starting again from scratch, or pulling it apart to stitch back together in a different pattern. The story is done with me, more so than I am with it, and we both need to grow.

I have another novel to finish before the summer. This one began as a simple narrative, but it is growing… More characters appear and demand to tell their story. Twists have developed in the plot which I never envisaged when I sat down with my opening scene and wrote it down.

I have a feeling it will be larger than the previous one.

Wikimedia commons Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel

And then, I have three or four to write before the NEXT Big Idea.

That one’s starting to snowball at the back of my mind. It’s another Rhinemaiden story. I’m starting to gather ideas, information, background and connections; starting to find points on a landscape for which I must build a map.

I can’t write that one now. I need to learn. Those three novels in between (also Rhinemaiden stories) will develop my skills to a point where I’m ready to tackle the big one. And after that…

Who knows?

Published in: on January 26, 2012 at 10:33 pm  Comments Off on When it’s done, it’s done…  
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Published – The Last Rhinemaiden

I have published my novel: The Last Rhinemaiden.

What’s it about? Here’s the blurb:

You might think that the most sensational events of 1888 were the gruesome murders which took place in Whitechapel.

You’d be wrong.

A young woman leaps from Westminster Bridge at sunrise on the morning the German Kaiser dies. The only witness is Alf Winchester, who is captivated by her death.

By nightfall London is swarming with armed men and foreign spies hunting for him. And for her.

This is the not-a-jack-the-ripper-novel I’ve been talking about for some time. It’s set in London, in 1888. Go have a look. You can sample 20% for free on Smashwords, and use the “Look Inside…” feature on Amazon.

It will be pushed through the Smashwords distribution system to the iBookstore, Nook store, Barnes & Noble, Sony ebooks and Diesel books in the next couple of weeks.

cover image for The Last Rhinemaiden by Lee McAulay

Amazon UK     Amazon USA     Smashwords

Published in: on January 18, 2012 at 12:00 am  Comments Off on Published – The Last Rhinemaiden  
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