Perhaps it is circular, but this observation (from an – admittedly – unreliable observer in one of my short stories) has been a constantly popular post over the last few years. Yes – it has even surpassed interest in Franz Kafka. .So I’ll give it another turn
“Circles are the answer.
“Just look at any circle and you’ll see what I mean. Of course, no one else is to know about the circles. They must be very stupid if they can’t see something so obvious.
“Yet, you get hints, don’t you – all the time out there. And in your own life – the way things happen so you never get anywhere. Never change.
“The earth, of course, and the sun – well, that’s something you can see. Either way you look at it, the one goes around the other in a big circle that takes in the whole sky. And the earth and the sun and the moon are round – all circles in their own right. So you have circles which are going around in circles, if you get my meaning.
“And if you look further – reach out into the universe as far as you can go – they tell us that everything is going around everything else. Smaller circles and elongated circles which take in such large distances that numbers become forgotten.
“Now, this means that everything, eventually, comes back upon itself. The beginning is really the end. That’s what most people would think – and that’s where they make their mistake.
“You see, things don’t start by beginning – they start by ending. It’s the end which comes first in a circle, so, instead of going back to where it started, it comes back to its end.
In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries. There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record.
11 June 1918
That was a game I used to play with my sisters when we were little: What if we were children of the Emperor? What if we dug a hole in the ground all the way to China? What if we had our own house? What if we lived by the ocean? What if we went to church (those mysterious churches)? What if we lived on the moon, would we be able to yell down our greetings? Ottla had the least interest in the game, yet she made up the best questions.
I find today that when I `what if’, I don’t think so much of the future, but wonder about those things I might have done in my past, which I ignored or refused.
Felice, of course, with two engagements never fulfilled.
Other work – I’m a good enough lawyer, I could get other work.
Prague – this ornate tomb – to have lived a life elsewhere. Berlin, Palestine, Amerika. Zurau.
What if I had fled with the Swiss girl? Her youth, her zest – I might have learned to sing.
What if I were less exact – less austere?
What I might have written.
What I might have lived.
What if I had asked far fewer questions – and taken more time to better understand the answers.
I don’t know if this is the eternal question of authors (maybe that question is ‘what do editors want?’) but there is a lot of worthwhile information here. And I’m guessing agents in America want what their British counterparts want. More or less.
Last weekend’s first Kent Festival of Writing, organised with WhitLit, offered a full day of workshops about different aspects of writing, from Julie Cohen’s on plotting with Pixar and building a character from a coin toss, to mine on the perils of editing. (I’ll blog more about that soon.) The day culminated in a panel with […]
What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
The Elephant Talks to God is a book of short stories where my Elephant takes his queries and comments directly to God. God not only listens (as God does to us all) but enters into conversation with the Elephant, answering his questions. The stories eventually ended because the Elephant began asking questions the author could not answer. This book is not typical of my novels, the first being a Fantasy set in World War Two and published on two continents, the second a Thriller leading to my first translated work.
Tell us about yourself.
I am from Atlantic Canada, where I have lived all my life. My mother was a British War Bride and my father came from United Empire Loyalist stock. The Estey ancestry goes back to medieval Italy and the House of D’Este. I am interested in, and directed by, all this heritage. I have been writing for over thirty years.
What inspired you to write this book?
My mother gave me an elephant figurine as part of a Christmas gift. While struggling for a subject for a short story, I looked around my room and stopped at the elephant. It was to be a one-off story. The Elephant (and God) had other ideas.
How did you choose the title?
I wanted the most straight-forward title of such a weighty character and subject matter.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I had no interest in writing, books, reading or any of the arts until Grade Eleven. Within the space of a week (for no obvious reason – I say that God cuffed me on the back of the head) I started writing “funny” short articles. The first of them which I remember (and it may indeed be the first) was about a classroom pencil sharpener which chewed up my pencil. I would do one or two of these funny articles a month. They started to get published in the regional newspaper, The Daily Gleaner.
Do you have any writing rituals?
My writing rituals slide around and some disappear over the years. The bulk of my manuscripts are done long hand with a BIC black ink pen. I usually write in the morning. I use binders and write on alternate lines on both sides of the page. I do now write thriller/adventure books on the computer, for I find that medium enhances the speed of such stories.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
When stuck for a character’s name, I go to a Gazetteer. Most of the time the character appears with name intact. I have three novel manuscripts where the central character has no name but just initials.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?
Every day I write I learn something about writing. The Elephant showed me I can sustain humour.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
I know what I should have done differently, but I doubt I would do it. I would have concentrated more on the career aspect, promotion and name recognition. But that might mean I would have written one less novel. Not worth the trade-off.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I prefer reading books where all the elements (character, plot, description, philosophy) blend seamlessly. Writers whom I enjoy who accomplish this are John le Carré, Thomas Mann, Thomas Hardy, Mavis Gallant, Alan Bennett, Robert Hass, Alice Munro, Saul Bellow.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am working on a thriller centred around NATO. Internet chicanery is at the core of the intricate plot. One central character is a guard/attack dog named Louie. His name came from a real dog I heard being called to in a dog park. Louie is a Cane Corso.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
*BEST* advice for a writer – write regularly. Work time into a schedule to make it possible to write a number of times a week – same time/same place if possible. Publishing venues are so broad these days that it is best to take a long time and study them all. Then chose an avenue that is comfortable (and understandable).
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
Perfection is over-rated. Enter my books and you won’t be disappointed.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?