|The Sterkarm Handshake and A Sterkarm Kiss by Susan Price|
I have finished the first draft of Sterkarm 3!
I know some of you already know this, but I’m still performing happy dances whenever I remember it.
It’s been three years. I started work on it early in 2009, the year I also started work for the Royal Literary Fund.
RLF work slowed the writing down, but not by much. Writing a book is a long, slow business.
My Sterkarm books are set on the Western borders of Scotland and England, a place of high moors and steep valleys, many streams and much rain.
It comes easily to me to compare the writing of this book – of all books – to being lost in this country with only the faintest idea of which way I should go. I set off, scrambled up a steep hillside, with much panting, while being scratched by heather twigs and briars. I stumbled into bog-holes, lost a boot, limped on, got to the top, and paused to hear the larks singing.
|The Sterkarm Handshake|
Then realised I’d gone the wrong way and needed to slither all the knee-jarring way down again and climb up the opposite hill.
(And I have done all that in the real world, so I don’t make the comparison lightly.)
In three years, only occasionally have I seen the way clear and followed an easy, well-marked path – and have sometimes found that even well-marked easy paths can end in a thorny broom thicket. (But does any bush have such a gloriously yellow flower? Does any other British flower smell of coconut?)
It’s been exhausting, but I don’t know any other way to get a book written. Even if you set off with a map and a sat-nav – well, both can be misleading.
Even now I’m not finished. I have 110,000 words to read through and rewrite. I’m looking forward to it – rewriting is always the best part – and dreading it at the same time. (What if three years’ struggle produced nothing but bunk?)
I hope to find out what the story’s about. For three years I’ve been concentrating on plot, which means asking myself where did I last leave Andrea, and why is Sweet Milk, when I need him, miles away on another hillside, asleep?
|A Sterkarm Kiss|
I intend to wait at least a month before I even look at it. I hope a close reading will reveal, among all the plot, a theme.
The first two Sterkarm books, The Sterkarm Handshake and A Sterkarm Kiss, are now out of print.
I don't know what will happen to the Sterkarm books now. My agent is looking for another publisher but, who knows if they'll find one?
Would anyone, I wonder, like a look at the first chapter of Sterkarm 3, in rough?
Read an interview with Susan Price about the writing of the Sterkarm books here.
And here's Blott -