Raw Meat .. Nicola Batty's Newsletter.

Sunday, December 03, 2006


RAW MATERIALS. Copyright Nicola Batty (c) 2006
I’m still pretty much obsessed by The Space Between, continuing quite happily, beavering away! instantly I thought that perhaps I should start referring to the novel as To Be Suggestive… but Andy says I should leave it as it is, because it’s a work in progress novel and the title may well be changed again. So in this case, I’m going to do what he says…! The idea of To Be Suggestive as a complete novel is now one which I’m quite settled with though. It all hangs together being all set in or around London, linked directly or indirectly with Wilde. I’m pretty sure that in this way I can see that the next book will be located in France… maybe just Paris, I’m not quite sure. Then the third book will probably take place somewhere in America… I’m not sure exactly where yet. But I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself… I’ll stick to this first novel for now.

The idea for the piece I’ve just been writing came to me quite suddenly… in fact I can’t really remember where it came from! But I felt it was time for a change – I’d had enough of Harriet and Emma and thought Robbie should come in a bit more. I also wanted to introduce a completely new character – Constance Wilde. I always felt a little sorry for Constance and her kids, because they were inevitably overshadowed by Oscar and his cavorting… it seems so unfair. Particularly when you realise how devoted Oscar was to his family – and yet they suffered almost as much as he did. The whole story is totally tragic, so I wanted to give Constance a look in without Oscar… and Robbie also had to be there, because they were such good friends in reality. Then tying in the silk purse episode and also Harriet and Emma came easily; it was also exciting to confront historical characters (Robbie and Constance) with my own fictional ones… even though I had a little trouble remembering exactly what I had written in Killing Time 15 years ago!!

However, I found it so much easier to write about Constance and Robbie rather than Harriet and her lot. I’m not quite sure if this is because Harriet’s world is something I know next to nothing about so it inevitably involves lots of research. One piece of advice I was given by another writer of historical novels was to stick to what I know – which I thought was absolute rubbish!! If I did that then what would be the point in imagination? That would also really limit me to simply churning out autobiography – perish the thought. But anyway, I’m inevitably much more confident when writing about Wilde or his circle which includes Robbie of course. I adore Robbie almost as much as I respect Oscar and I wanted to bring him into my novel to give him his due.

I wasn’t sure about setting this piece in Cambridge instead of London – I hope it doesn’t stick out from the other bits like a sore thumb! Please tell me if you think it does! Obviously I used my memories of punting along the river Cam a few summers ago to back up my fiction… I can still feel the really hot sunshine on the back of my neck, even to this day.


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