It started out like trying to rake leaves on a windy day: just little piles of words that kept blowing away before I could get enough together to light a fire. Now that I’ve got a par-sized heap scraped up, I’d better find a box of matches, before it rains and makes all those disjointed sentences so soggy they won’t even smoulder….
Being a pantser worked out great for Irish Firebrands, which is a contemporary romance with just enough historical information to provide realism for the setting, back-story and character backgrounds. Almost no planning was needed, except after I wrote the scenes, to note on a calendar where I was putting them (the story took place between May 2007 and December 2008). For the most part, it was exhilarating.
This time I’m doing a historical novel (from about 1906 to early 1936), and it’s very different. Almost all the easy pantser stuff (the completely fictional material) has been written, and now I’ve got to grind away at research, and figure out how my characters fit into the Irish Ranch War and the Land Act of 1909, the Dublin Lockout, the Easter Rising, the Anglo-Irish War, the Irish Civil War; World War I; some medical history (the influenza pandemic, development of plastic surgery, and early psychiatric treatment for shell shock); and in post-war Germany, the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party up to the German rearmament.
I like history, although these are not the most pleasant events to be immersed in, and I like my characters, although this is not the most pleasant time to be witnessing their lives. But putting everything together is taking a lot more planning than I like to engage in, and for the most part, that’s exhausting. Since I’m a low-energy person anyhow, this means I’ve come down with a mild case of the Week Three Blues.
So to recapture the vision, I revisited an idea for the cover / dust jacket of The Passions of Patriots. It’s adapted from two paintings by William Orpen. The colors are not as vibrant on a laptop LCD screen as they are on an old-fashioned cathode ray tube. What do you think?