A Quietly Productive Weekend


The fact that my website was offline for over 24 hours didn’t put a damper on my weekend. I had access to e-mail. And, yes, I stepped away from the computer a fair bit. How could one not in weather as good as this?

This weekend, Erin and I managed to get out of the house. We went for breakfast on Saturday and then stopped in the local Chapters to write. Then, that evening, Dan came over, and we took advantage of his brute strength to rearrange the booknook.

Erin and I live in a split-level townhouse, with the kitchen and the dining room one floor above the front entrance, and the bedrooms and bathroom one floor above them. In the half-floor between the kitchen/dining room and the front foyer is our living room, a small room but with thirteen-feet ceilings, our favourite room. We assembled a number of wooden bookshelves around one corner of this room using a primitive but effective method (screws and corner brackets), topped off the ensemble with Ikea lights and called it our booknook. Add in two chairs and a small table, and it’s a place to sit and be studious.

Well, recently Erin and I outgrew our booknook. We had poetry books and fiction novels seeping off the shelves, and we decided to do something about it. One of the wooden bookshelves’ cousins was in exile in our computer room upstairs, so we decided to unload it, bring it down and rearrange the booknook to get more space. Of course, the magazines and papers on the returning bookshelf would have to be boxed up, but we still felt we’d be ahead of the game. And, another of course, this required us to unload three bookshelves and unscrew, rearrange and reshelve everything to fit.

Oh, Daaaaaan!

The expected condominium association garage sale did not materialize (clearly I read the wrong date), so Erin and I walked to the grocery store to buy supper, enjoying the sun and the warmth. Spring is here!

Now back to work…

Here’s a passage I’m pleased with (even if it is only a first draft). I wrote this on Saturday in Chapters. I’m starting to jump around the narrative of The Young City. As the momentum fades from writing up the beginning, the middle of this story is forming in dribs and drabs — little set pieces that will eventually be connected together in a cohesive whole (I hope).

Right now, I know that Rosemary and Faith will be trapped in Edmund’s shop when Aldous Magnait’s men attack, although I’m not clear on the details. And I know that Rosemary and Faith will be forced to hide in the sewers, where they’ll discover Aldous’ growing underground smuggling network. Again, I’m fuzzy on the details. But I do know that they will eventually be discovered, and this will happen:

Oh, I also know that Rosemary and Faith share a touch of claustrophobia…

The lantern light swept the tunnel wall, dazzling them.

“We know you’re in there!” the gruff voice shouted. “Come out, or we’ll come in after you!”

Rosemary took a deep breath and squared her shoulders.

Faith stared at her in horror. “What are you doing?” she hissed.

“I’m going to them,” Rosemary whispered back. “They don’t know there are two of us. If they take me, you can find your way out and get the police.”

“Rosemary, don’t leave me here!” Faith squeaked. Her breath came in short, sharp gasps.

“Don’t make it harder on yourself!” shouted the voice over the gurgle of water. An oar splashed. The light on the tunnel wall intensified.

“Faith,” hissed Rosemary. “In another minute, they’ll catch both of us. Now, it’s your call. Stay and find the police, or go with them. What will it be?”

Faith stared at the brightening reflection. She took a deep breath. “All right. I’ll stay. But Rosemary, be careful; you’ve no idea what these men could do—”

“I know,” said Rosemary. She hugged Faith. “I’ll be careful. Good luck.”

“You too!”

Behind them, a hand hit wood in frustration. “Right! That’s it, lads! Bring her out. Don’t be gentle!”

“Wait!” shouted Rosemary. The light hesitated. “I’m coming out.”

“Hurry up, then!”

Rosemary pulled away from Faith and splashed her way down the tunnel. She stepped into the light, shielding her eyes from the brightness.

“Faith Watson?” the gruff voice called.

Rosemary laughed. “You’re expecting someone else?”

There was a splash, and the lantern turned aside. In the shadows behind the light, she saw a flat-bed boat draw close. A silhouette gestured to an empty space. “Stell aboard, my lady!”

Rosemary rolled her eyes. “Such a gentleman.” She gingerly stepped aboard and gathered up her skirts around her.

Using long sticks and standing like gondoliers, the man turned the boat around, and eased her into the current.

In the dying light, Rosemary say Faith peer out, her face pale, her lips resolute.

Then the boat rounded a curve, and slipped away downstream.

Just a week after saying that Jenny Nimmo is practically unknown in North America, I see two new books of hers prominently featured on the shelves of Chapters. Midnight for Charlie Bone is the first of Jenny Nimmo’s new Red King sequence (the second, the Time Twister, is already out).

Given that the story deals with a magical child coming into his own while at a boarding school, comparisons between this sequence and Harry Potter are inevitable. I’ll have to read the book, but first glances suggest that the similarities are superficial. Jenny Nimmo is a vastly underrated writer, and I’m pleased that her books are finally getting the attention they deserve.

Now if only they’d re-release the Snow Spider sequence…

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