Well, I’ve given in. Faced with 650 plus pages to scan and edit, I found I just couldn’t face it. Nor, I felt, could my scanner. By the end of scanning ‘Candle in the Dark’ the cover of my printer had come loose from its hinges and the subsequent editing and reformatting took weeks of my time.
So, when I felt the moment had come to launch my longest novel ever into Kindle format, I gritted my teeth and paid out for a professional firm to do the scanning for me. Within days I had a pretty good editable manuscript that still needed to be read through three times, to get everything right, but that was manageable. Phew! So, thank you, Steve Wright and all at Pearl Scan Solutions.
Then there was the cover. ‘A Thread of Gold’ is a family saga set in a French vineyard from just before the Franco-Prussian war up to the end of the First World War (I had nightmares writing the last bit, so intensely had I soaked myself in the records of French soldiers caught up in that horrible war). I tried to find a picture of the right sort of vineyard, preferably with a château in the middle of it, but could find none that were quite right and free to use. Perhaps a glass of wine and a half-filled bottle? But again, finding the right ones was tricky. The Sainsbury’s label is a bit of a give-away, and early wine bottles didn’t have labels both sides. Besides, the bottle wasn’t big enough. And the large ones all had screw tops.
In the end, I took a photo of a small oil painting done long ago by my paternal grandmother, which showed a windmill and a tree covered with blossom. It was a Sussex landscape, but who’s to know? A windmill and cherry trees feature in the novel, so that’s what’s on the cover, with (as usual) lettering supplied by my son – who must be hoping I’m getting near the end of the ebooks by now.
Meanwhile, I’ve been steadily reacquainting myself with the many characters in the novel. This was another book I always wanted to follow with a sequel, taking the family on into the Second World War and the horrors of Nazi occupation and the Resistance. I made a good many notes for the next book, but that’s as far as it got, and I fear it won’t get done now – if for no other reason that I fear I no longer have the stomach for reliving such terrible times, even in my imagination. It’s one thing I’ve found about growing older: I’m much more squeamish than I used to be. There is so much real horror in the world that to invent any more is unbearable. In particular when it’s horror that really happened.
Which is why, as a reader, I’ve never been able to get to the end of ‘Wolf Hall’. But that’s another story…