Friday, December 2, 2011

Nancy Bell tells a Jack Whyte Story

Today, my guest is MuseItUp author, Nancy Bell.  Her latest novel, A Step Sideways releases today from MuseItUp.

My Jack Whyte Story

Hi everyone and a huge thank you to Penny for hosting me on One Writers Journey. The second novel in my Cornwall Adventures series releases today. A Step Sideways is Gort’s story, for those who are familiar with Laurel’s Miracle you’ve already met him. For those who haven’t, let me introduce you.

Gort, whose name represents the Ivy in the Celtic Tree Ogham, is a young man with many problems. He is an orphan who lived with his uncle until very recently. His Uncle Daniel is not the nicest man in the world and mistreats his young nephew. Gort has been given into the care of  his best friend’s grandmother by court order and his uncle has skipped town.

The boy is troubled by night terrors and he stutters when he speaks. The meaning of the Ivy in the Ogham is ‘search for self’ and that is exactly what Gort does in this story.

His uncle shows up unexpectedly and kidnaps the boy; he knocks him senseless, and Gort takes a step sideways through the veil which separates the world as we know it from the one which exits only as a glimpse from the corner of our eye. He is accompanied by the crystal stallion GogMagog with who he became bonded in Laurel’s Miracle. The stallion takes the wounded spirit that is Gort back to a time in a former life when he wasn’t so helpless and unable to control the events in his life.

They travel through the mists and Gort discovers he and the horse once rode in support of the High King of All Britain, the Great Bear King Arthur.

I spent many hours researching the location of my story, most of which takes place in Lyonesse. The land that was lost in the great flood of the 10th century. Most of the sea between Lands End and the Isles of the Scillies was once the land of Lyonesse. I also did a fair bit of research on King Arthur and used the abduction of his queen as a catalyst for my story. Of course I added a twist or two.

There is a battle scene in the novel where Arthur skewers his enemy on the point of his sword. Instead of using the name of the sword in the passage, I eschewed Excalibur and merely called it ‘his famous sword’. I wanted to create a cozy feeling with the reader, kind of like, ‘oh, she knows I know what his sword is called’.
My editor questioned me on this and said why not just use Excalibur. I didn’t wish to for the reason stated above. It was just my luck to be attending the Surrey International Writers Conference in October of 2010. I had the opportunity to have a Blue Pencil session with Jack Whyte. What better person to ask a question relating to King Arthur? I was also curious how my battle scene would hold up under his knowledgeable gaze. So with bated breath and trembling hands I waited for my fifteen minutes alone with Jack and my excerpt from A Step Sideways.

I wiped my sweaty palm on my skirt and approached the table. Once there, I shook his hand and gave him my excerpt. He read the page and a half through while I studied his face for expressions of horror, or worse laughter. When he looked up, I asked him about the sentence with the sword reference. To my great and utter delight, Jack Whyte agreed with me that the reader would indeed supply the name of the sword from my reference. He also, read aloud a short passage which I must assume he quite liked. “That intimate connection between the man with the sword in his hand and the man with the sword in his gut.” If you have ever heard the man speak, you will know he has a most amazing Scottish burr and a wonderfully deep and articulate manner of speaking. I cannot begin to describe how it felt to hear Jack Whyte read my words aloud. 

There was also a bit just below this one where the enemy fell, I had said ‘like an unanimated puppet’ Jack said most emphatically this was not a suitable word. Not strong enough and he gave me a gift. The word ‘unarticulated’. Of course, the word was not new to me. I just hadn’t thought to use it. It is the perfect word, and I was thrilled to hear how well it fit the sentence. 

From this we went on to talk about horses and the difference between war horses and regular horses. It was a distinct pleasure and a highlight of my life. I was so excited when I left the Blue Pencil I was a bit crazed. I called my husband to share my good news, got the answering machine, and left a message. About twenty minutes later, he called me back. He said my best friend called him and told him to call me as I was excited about something to the point of being incoherent. Seems I dialled her number, listened to her answering machine, and left my message without realizing I wasn’t talking to my own machine. I have not lived this down yet.  

If you would like to learn more about A Step Sideways and Laurel’s Miracle you can find information on my website.  or the MuseItUp Publishing Book Store. A Step Sideways will release as an ebook on December 2, 2011 with print available 6-10 months after that. The ebook will available on, Smashwords and the MuseItUp Book Store.  Laurel’s Miracle is available in ebook format as well as print from the same sources.

Thank you Penny for allowing me to share this story and hosting my on your blog.   

1 comment:

  1. Having met Jack a few times I can appreciate how satisfying it must have been to sit down with him to discuss your work. He's the kind of person who both inspires and encourages, and I love the respect he shows for the efforts of both new and seasoned writers.

    Congratulations on the release of your new book. I wish you much success with it.