|Knowledge will only take you so far…|
I thought I’d take a short break from editing Covenant, my first novel (not counting I wrote while at school, which fortunately never saw the light of day). I’ve wrestled with some of the wordier sentences, understanding what I was trying to say but wondering whether some of those things needed to be said. Let’s face it: less can be more. Imagination is more powerful than description, if you leave the right clues. (Just look at the famous shower scene from Psycho.)
So, as I’ve said before, Covenant deals with magic. And, when you stop and think about it, writing could also be seen as magical.
Stage magic is the art of making the impossible seem possible. The audience suspends its disbelief, and the stage magician uses finely honed skills and techniques (yes, even Tommy Cooper), to create an experience of wonder.
But, for those of you who’ve read any part of Covenant – or heard me talk about it – you’ll know that it’s not that kind of magic my book deals with. True, there are cards mentioned, but they’re the other kind.
The medieval mind saw all matter as containing one or more of four elements – Fire, Earth, Air and Water. And there was the fifth, less easily defined element of Ether or Spirit. This model was a way of making sense of the world – a template of perception – and it’s common in fantasy fiction, as the basis for what we could call an alternative science. Come on people, you must have read or seen Harry Potter by now.
Writing requires a balance of, and mastery over, elements too. Let’s get inventive for a moment. Our elements can be labelled Plot, Characterisation, Dialogue and Pace. And our fifth element might be termed Soul. Oh, it’s a hard one to define, but we always know it when we see it. Whatever the genre, if a book has that indefinable shard of brilliance, it touches us and maybe even changes us too.
Writing involves conjuring ideas out of the sky or charming them out of the trees (or wherever else we are lucky enough to find them). We invoke archetypal themes and we evoke emotional responses. We take the abstract and, within the confines of the world we create, we make something tangible, populating the domain with thinking, feeling people who may well take on a life of their own. (If not for you then for your readers.)
And if that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is!
Isca has followed the faith since she was a child and it has brought her from the Settlements into the City States. Now, as a priestess, a prophecy bears fruit; she receives the tablet that will liberate her people and deliver them to their spiritual homeland. But freedom comes at a price. To keep the tablet safe until the Righteous One claims it, she must betray the faith and summon an outsider to protect it; she must break her vows and teach a heathen the path of True Will.
When a stranger appears in the city of Tarsis, in need of a hiding place, destiny turns on a single meeting. The heretic, Turor, will discover the truth about the tablet and the boy chosen to protect it. Together they will unite their believers, but divide the faith forever. The people of the exodus will risk everything to escape the world of the City States, joining Turor in his quest to find the lost Holy City of Sarrell.
The journey will take all their courage, all their trust and all the magic that Turor can wield. Along the way, secrets will be uncovered, alliances forged and broken, and two ancient powers will be reconciled. Surely, only a Righteous One could accomplish all this – but what if Turor wasn’t so righteous after all?