So why has it taken me so long? Some of you might remember that I completed a version of this book back in 2017, around the time the paperback version of The House at the Edge of Night was published. At that time, the original plan was for the next book to be out in 2019. But when I sat down to work on it, I realised it needed much more time. It had been a complex book to plan, with a lot of intricate historical research, and I wasn't convinced that I had fully realised the story in the first draft, or done the characters justice - particularly the central women characters, who had suddenly come into relief in the latter part of the draft. This happened with The House at the Edge of Night too, and probably deserves its own article - or possibly a whole conference or series of books about the problems we come across as women writers imagining women characters. Either way, I began to retrace my steps and unpick the structure of the book, attempting to find a way around this difficulty and re-imagine the characters. Until at some point I realised that the right thing to do would be to rewrite the whole book from the start.
That might sound drastic, and in a way it is - but in another way it's also quite a normal part of the writing process. Certain books take two iterations to get right, and once you realise it there's nothing worse than making surface edits to a draft that has underlying flaws and getting as far as publication with the wrong version of a story. I've always been quite strict with myself, and I know a lot of writers are, about not letting that happen even at the cost of taking more time. Because, of course, to rewrite a 100,000-word book takes a lot of time, and I'm grateful to my editors and readers for letting me do this. It was a decision I made by myself, and I didn't want to take it lightly - in fact, for this reason, I've taken a pause from social media and all other commitments like writing articles in order to focus on the book and get it written as soon as possible. The book is now almost finished, and I'm happy to say it's right this time around.
I will post more information in the coming months, particularly about the date of publication, but for now I can tell you that the book follows the women in one family from 1900 to the present day, it is called The Lit and Unlit World, and it is set in north Italy in a town surrounded by vineyards. Thank you for waiting so patiently for me to get the process right with this book. I feel grateful every day to have such kind and passionate readers. You make what I do worthwhile, you are generous with your words and support, your love for books and literature shines through in everything you write to me, and encourages me when I sit down at my desk each morning. I'm looking forward to sharing more news with you soon about the coming book.
With greetings from Torino, where as you can see I've moved house again, but kept the same writing desk as always.
~ Catherine, November 2019