And So It Begins…Again

I started work on the new book this week, a historical fantasy set in 1847 Belfast during the Irish Famine. I’ve had the idea for some time now but have spent the last month or so researching the period. These are the hard yards where you might spend a week’s research for the sake of getting one paragraph right in the book. Despite there being some leeway when writing fantasy, I want key historical aspects of the book to be as accurate as possible.

It’s a bit like a swan sailing serenely across a placid lake. It looks effortless but, beneath the surface, the swan is paddling furiously to sustain its momentum. Historical fiction is a bit like that, the attention to detail can necessitate an inordinate amount of spadework beforehand. This can relate to surroundings, clothing, food, and language. I first dabbled with it when writing ‘Skelly’s Square,’ the first book in my ‘Kirkwood Scott’ series.

Thankfully, nobody has come back so far to say ‘You got that bit horribly wrong, Stephen.’ I’m hoping I’ve passed the test in respect of both ‘Skelly’s Square,’ and its sequel ‘A New Jerusalem.’ The latter book contains some historical scenes but is largely set in futuristic Belfast which allowed me to unleash my imagination to full effect. Whilst the first book in the series has more 5 star reviews, as a writer I’m prouder of ‘A New Jerusalem.’

The research phase will continue throughout the duration of the writing process. It allows me to add layers to the story and details in later drafts that strengthen the accuracy of the context. My only problem is that every time I finish one book, it invariably signposts me to another half dozen on the topic. It’s crucial not to get too bogged down in research as it can distract from the most important issue – the story itself.

I’m trying to average 1000 words a day with the aim of finishing the book within 3-4 months. I believe that to be a challenging, but realistic, target. I’ve been incredibly busy with work lately but have almost four weeks off at Christmas where I hope to get caught up on my word count. So far, I’m on schedule having passed the 5000 word mark yesterday. It’s rough and ready but that’s what getting the first draft down is all about. I’m hoping it’s a rough diamond.

I tend to write creatively in 3-4 month bursts. I finished the third book in the ‘Kirkwood Scott’ series earlier this year and have written a couple of short stories in the intervening period. They have kept me ticking over and I’ve been delighted that both were subsequently selected for publishing. It’s always good to get a ‘yes’ e-mail from a publisher. I’ve had so many rejections these last few years.

I’m going to use this blog to post regular writing updates to show those that are interested what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ in the creation of a novel. Hopefully one day I will be blogging about the publication of this one which has the working title of ‘The Famine Witch.’ But, for now, it’s time to get back to the chapter I’m working on. Momentum is hard won but easily lost. Now is not the time to take the foot off the pedal.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

24 thoughts on “And So It Begins…Again

  1. Congratulations on your progress, Stephen. That’s impressive. As a fellow swan, I can say historical fiction is indeed a challenge, because while most people would read and accept what you write at face value, there will always be some knowledgeable person who catches every blunder … :/
    Writing about recent history is both easier and harder. When writing a novel set in New York City on 9-11, I knew there would be a lot of people who knew about it, and even experienced it, so I wouldn’t get away with any guesswork. On the other hand, I had friends who had been right there, who proofread the manuscript for me before it went into print. One was even an engineer who had worked on the World Trade Center, who could tell me details others wouldn’t know. Those people were a godsend.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a lot of Americans whose ancestors came here because of those hard years. I often wonder what my ancestors went through during that time. It’s a topic that might interest a lot of people on this side of the pond. Best wishes for success.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Momentum is hard won, but easily lost”…I love that! Congratulations, Stephen! I hear your determination in your words and it’s inspiring. Historical fiction is my favorite( As well as creative non-fiction for kids) research can be kind-boggling; yet it sounds like you have found the momentum you need! I’m cheering you on! I still need to read the others as personal and professional goals have kept me behind on my reading. Particularly I wish to read The New Jerusalem! I hope you and yours remain blessed and healthy. I’m so happy you have time off to pursue your dream!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re very welcome! And thank you, too. I’m doing my best. Winter hits me in different ways. It’s almost like a slump. A few health challenges can add a layer to that. I try very hard to let go of some control I feel I have on my entire life ~yet, not become complacent in what I know I MUST do to keep my momentum (does that make sense?). You’ve been part of my inspiration in this space and your message to me was so timely. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed reading this update so very much! Excited to read your third book in the Kirkwood Scott trilogy, and then this new one. You are a fantastic author; I hope you have begun to see that now!


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