So, I’ve been writing a book. It’s called The Wake Knot. I thought for a long time that I wouldn’t be able to finish it, and I’ve been sitting on the project since I properly started it around November 2014. One of those NaNoWriMo projects that seemed to go nowhere. I’ve been so lacking in inspiration for writing lately that I’ve not bothered with NaNoWriMo for the past couple of years. I think my last attempt was 2017, and my hard drive is littered with part-complete projects.
Whether I feel like writing or not often depends on the stress level at work. I work in education, and sometimes the bullshit and the marking get on top of you and you just can’t. The sheer number of projects I’ve started and not finished is testament to the nature of the job.
This project has had the longest gestation of anything I’ve ever written. Its first scene, with the male protagonist getting out of his air-conditioned car into the unspeakable heat of the day, was started in 2006. The original setting was a different church in a different village in a different part of France. Back then, I was thinking of writing about a kind of high school reunion, but it came to nothing. Much of the rest, as I said, dates from 2014, when I transplanted the story to the Dordogne and wrote the first half (and planned most of the rest). By then I had the outline of a story about a journalist on a cycling holiday who gets caught up in a murder. I then left it for a couple of years before writing a little bit more; and then a couple more. All in all, it took me five years to finish, but much longer if you count the 2006 bit.
It’s probably the complexity of the plot that made me keep stopping to scratch my head for 18 months at a time. The story kept getting more complicated, and then it needed to get less so. Perhaps I have Mary, Undoer of Knots, to thank for that.
The project has had a number of titles over the years. Relics, Whip, King of the Mountain, The Infinity Pool… There are even cover designs, one of them inspired by the stained glass window which is still a part of the novel. It sometimes helps to use a different part of your brain, and mess around with cover designs. Apart from anything else, it’s a useful way of thinking about genre, and how it might call to those who want to read it. Relics looks like it might be something set in the middle ages.
I’ve tried over 20 design variations so far, and seem to have hit upon one almost by accident which is reminiscent of one I designed for another novel set in France (French Blood), so at least there’s some consistency there.
Here are a few of the other ideas: