Field notes from an imaginary universe

I’ve been asked more times than I can count to describe what genre I write in.  Sometimes I have a go at answering.  ‘I don’t know,’ I say, ‘my book’s about a girl who’s turning into glass.’  The truth is, though, as I discovered on Friday when I finished writing my new novel, that it’s travel writing.  The only difference is that the place I went to doesn’t actually exist.  I stayed there for a few years and met many of the people who live and love there, but they don’t exist either.  Still, I had an interesting time with them.  A few of them turned out to be really horrible, but the rest were good-natured, even if they sometimes had a peculiar way of showing it.

The point is that finishing a novel feels like coming back from a long trip overseas.  It’s a trip from which you’re pleased to have returned, because of the sense of completion it lends to the experience, but also slightly disappointed to be back from, since the act of returning makes the being there feel so distant.  And will anyone believe in or even care to hear about the things that you did?  Only time will tell.

There is some final editing left to do, but that’s just the preparation of the field notes.  The visit is over and I won’t go back.  What a strange and irrational act of the imagination.  Which, of course, is the whole joy and point of it.

The Man who Rained will be on the bookshelves some time this winter.  In the meantime here’s a sort of teaser, from my sketchbook.