Tuesday, December 30, 2008

August Rock - Inspiration

I can't believe I can't use word on this machine. I have so much buzzing in my head and can't do anything with it. But that is off the point for the moment because I have managed to put August Rock into a form where at least I could cut and paste. AR has been on my mind a great deal this holiday. First because one of the agents who said no to ACH, but was so flattering about writing wanted to see some chapters of AR. Brilliant I thought then on the flight I read a bit of AR and cringed. I have known in the back of my head that AR needed more work, but I hadn't realized how much. Its dire state leapt out at me. However I must complete the dirty draft of current book before a rewrite of AR can begin. Yet as we were walking off the Christmas lunch and other excesses I couldn't leave AR out of my head. So I thought it would be fun to post some photos (courtesy of DH and both ds's) of the scenery that inspired AR and a little of Toby's story which I still feel is the strongest part of the book. So below is the opening of Tobias Trevenen, a thirteen year old boy's, story:

The Nare, The Lizard, Cornwall, 27th March 1846
Tobias stood on Nare Head looking at the waves crashing onto the rocks below. The wind tossed his hair side to side obscuring his vision of the sea. In the distance, he watched the four mast barque fight its way toward Falmouth in the heaving water. The sky was increasingly grey as the weather closed in. Toby came here most days to watch the sea as that is where his mother was.

Time was short. He knew he must be back at the house as visitors were due from London and he must be there when they arrived. Father was in a dither about them and everyone in the house was out of sorts. The approaching storm was peaceful compared with the tension that enclosed the house. Mrs. Williams, the house keeper, nearly hit Toby with a cloth as he snuck out and her anger with him was rarer than the treasure he found on his outings on the river. Mind you he found some, but not enough for anyone to take him seriously about the treasure by August Rock. Soon it would be time to look again but not yet.

He turned and walked slowly to his horse, Mabel. She was sheltering from the wind under a low tree. The ground was spongy where the frost had recently departed. By the time he had reached her, his boots and legs were covered in mud. If Mrs. Williams was still in a state, she would become worse. He was sure there was something more to the unease of everyone in the house. It wasn’t the approaching storm. It must be these visitors. They were distant relations and lucky Toby was going to celebrate his thirteenth birthday with them. This seemed to be making everyone grumpy including him.

Mabel nuzzled his pocket looking for the apple he always had for her when he took her this far from home. Even though the house had a good view of the sea it was too sheltered to feel the power of the ocean and to hear the call of the voices. The Helford was far too gentle unless there was an easterly blowing and then she would become a little passionate about living. Out on the Nare you could hear things and feel things as the wind tore at your clothes and water bashed up from the sea.

The heavy clouds began emptying as he sat on Mabel. He could feel the damp and soon he would be soaked. The jacket he wore offered no protection and it was too small as his arms were showing from the sleeves of the jacket which was new at Christmas. Mrs. Williams had told him this what boys did. They get big and messy. She would hug and smother the life out of him before she would push him out of the kitchen into the garden. If he stood with shoulders back he was almost as tall as she. Toby hoped he would be taller than his father, but he doubted it. His mother had been very petite and he resembled her more than his father. Well that was what Mrs. Williams said to him.

“Toby, my duck, you’re your mother’s son. More like her every day.” She would pause and study him again then finish. “Yes, you’ve the look of her alright.”

He wished he could tell, but all he could go on was a small sketch which he had been given when he went to London six years ago with his father. They visited an artist’s studio and he could still see the big windows in the studio and hear the shouting. The artist had given him the sketch before pushing him out into the garden so he couldn’t hear the words, just the noise. He had spied a portrait of his mother not yet complete and he often wondered why his father hadn’t received the painting. Toby wanted to be able to see his mother, but his father did not. At least Toby could hear her in the sea. He knew she was there.

At the top of the hill stood large granite gates and Mabel slowed. He loved them and the tree-covered drive that led to the house. Moving slowly protected from the worst of the storm by the canopy of branches above, he caught a glimpse of the grey stone vastness of the house nestled and protected from the wind in the hollow yet still proud above the river. It sat looking toward the mouth of the Helford and Falmouth Bay.

Rain ran down his face as he urged Mabel forward as they turned into the stable yard. Trees bent with the force of the storm. He hoped the visitors would not venture forth in such weather and the house would be quiet and peaceful. Toby knew, as he thought these things that staying outside in the storm would be better than the atmosphere he would face inside.

The yard was empty. No coaches in sight or the flurry of the grooms working to settle horses. At least he had returned before they had arrived and he would not be told off for that, but somehow he knew he was in trouble. He dragged his feet as he left Mabel with the groom who was missing his usual smile as he silently took the horse. Why was everyone so glum?

As he rounded the stable block, grey and solid, Trevenen House sat untroubled by the gale. Even the Helford was angry now. White horses came charging into the mouth of the river and rain swept at him horizontally. He couldn’t see Mawnan Sheer.

“Master Tobias.” From the tone of Mrs. Williams voice Toby knew things were bad.

“You are soaked through and the guests are due any minute.” Toby side-stepped her. He knew that the smallest thing would set the cannon loose. Her anger reminded him of the largest of the four cannons that sat on the lawn over looking the river. When she let rip nothing was left standing in her path.

“Get the wet off and go to your father in the drawing room. He’s been waiting for you for the past hour.”

Toby knew then that the dread he had been feeling all day was not imagined but real. His feet dragged as he left the kitchen and headed to his room.


Debs said...

Love the photos, and can see why they'd be so inspirational.

Desperate to read this, but will have to do so later, when not having a sneaky look from work!

liz fenwick said...

Thanks Debs :-)

HelenMHunt said...

This is great. I love the descriptive passages and the use of language. I'd love to read more.

Fiona said...

Very evocative. Beautiful descriptions of Cornwall and Toby really came alive for me.
There are a couple of words which, for me - being brought up for six months of the year in a cornish village, don't ring true. I am sure this doesn't matter though. It sounds a great read.

liz fenwick said...

Helen, you are kind and wish is my command. The next installment is up and I have to say it is really helping me restructure the story in my head!

Fiona, I would be over the moon is you could email the words that are out of place! I have only my ear to rely on and one can spend only so many hours sitting in the pub listening!!!!

Fiona said...

Thanks Liz - so hard to leave any remotely negative on such a good piece.

Duck is, I believe, a northern term. It would never be said by a native cornish celt. Usual forms of endearment are 'My lover or, for a child, tacker.' 'Snuck' may work but it sounds a little out of place. Is it more of an american word?

Liz, my family were mostly scottish with a little welsh. My grandfather moved to Cawsand when he was thirty five. He was the village doctor and my mother used to take me out of school for half the year to spend my growing up years in the village. My husband's family - Bolitho - go back five hundred years so do ask anything and I'll ask him. I'm afraid his ancestors were mostly on the wrong side of the law. His great grandma's pub had a smuggling hole.