What to Do When Your heroines Grow Up?
It’s been a dry time for my writing lately; I feel myself between stories, hoping that inspiration will come hurtling down from above to possess me. Alas, I think that rarely happens with real writers, although one can read about Oscar Wilde completing The Importance of Being Earnest is a fortnight and other great writers being focussed on bringing some particular idea to fruition in an indecent time. On the up side I have written a couple of sermons which might be worth reading but they are not in the genre for my website.
I am tinkering with an idea for a Sherlock Holmes story that would come straight after Ten Cents a Dance, taking its spring from the existence of a web of German spies who were left in place after the German defeat of November 1918. I am trying to construct a situation where Wally Beavers [the brave young hero of The Star of Hind and A Time of Shadows] is sent off to Washington in 1915 to connect with a young woman who is employed in some South American Embassy. She lodges secret papers in a New York safe deposit box and sails off to England – on the Lusitania. Of course she dies in the tragedy but not before she has handed the key to the box to Wally on the deck of the sinking ship etc etc. If I could complete that sentence I could start writing. Perhaps I should be more like Thackeray and simply write 500 words a day no matter how inspired he was feeling. At least at the end of the week you’d have pages of text from which to work.
Part of the problem is just feeling sad at how my heroines have grown up over time. The pictures of Katie and Emily at the top of this page tell the story. On a cool winter’s afternoon in Dubai, they asked their father if they could borrow his camera to “do a shoot”. Much makeup and giggles later, the results tell the obvious story: these aren’t little girls anymore and while I have aged them in the stories and given the careers [and even romantic interests at times] they are still in my stories naïve and innocent children. They happen to be, however, wonderfully good young ladies. Katie is kind and patient with everyone; Emily has a heart burning for social justice. They may not be fighting wicked Japanese gangsters or rescuing Father Christmas in real life but they are still good girls.
On the up side, I have had some great feedback on the writing from a couple of sympathetic readers. One woman who grew up in India has loved the atmosphere in the Indian historical stories. Another writer of thrillers has enjoyed the pace and the characterisation. Let me try to get going again – and see where it takes me.