Saturday, March 26, 2005

6th century problemos continued

Back to the 'wonderful' 6th century story. My second problem was writing the bloody thing in first person. Apparently, many reader don't like first person narratives. But I'm a reader and I much prefer first person, so naturally went for it. So tough, that was how it was going to be. Also, if I wanted to easily conceal the fact that my lead was female, this was the way to do it. But should I have been concealing this from the reader in the first place? Big, literary sort of question! Answers on a postcard (or in the comment box) please!

I didn't want the main story to revolve around the gender aspect, and doing it in third person would probably have lead to that; would have either had to lie outright and call 'her' a 'him' or use 'her' throughout. There were other aspects I wanted to explore - in particular the notion of personal loyalty. In those times, warriors had to swear loyalty unto death to their leaders. This was particularly strong amongst the Germanic peoples, where the Chief's/King's men would stand, fight, and die with their lord if necessary (as per King Harold and his huscarls at Hastings, five centuries later). In return (the if lord and warrior were still alive!) the lord would bestow gifts - bed, board, gold, sliver, land, etc.

Another aspect I wanted to explore was ethnicity. At this time in Britain's history, it's broadly Britons vs Anglo-Saxons, with the latter rapidly getting the upper hand. My lead is part Romano-British, part Saxon (btw she's from the south, so the northerners have no idea who she is). These 'half-breeds' would have very much been the 'coming thing' This mixed ethnicity is rarely shown in novels about this period. Obviously, the mixing of cultures is also starkly relative to today's Britain, and some how I wanted to get that aspect in.

Though keeping an eye on these issues, I also wanted to tell a good personal story. I think I tried to take on too much, and not surprisingly got a wee bit confused.

The rabbit mosaic coaster went well yesterday. Got to grout it now. Then I'm onto the stag mosaic. But even then it won't be the same as the Roman mosaics; I won't be able to use paper patterns and pva glues when I'm on display! Gulp.


At 5:36 pm GMT, Blogger Tess said...

Alex, I'm not sure you want to conceal for too long the gender of your narrator. Readers like to picture the characters in their head and that could get difficult if they don't know what to picture!

Your novel sounds very interesting - I'll enjoying following your progress via this blog.

Would love to see photos of your mosaics!

At 9:27 pm GMT, Blogger Olga said...

Hi, Alex. I've found you through Kate Allan's blog. I also think that you shouldn't conceal gender for too long as it would complicate reader's identification (just my .02). Love the ethnicity part; I like to explore it sometimes in my mss, too.
And I'd also like to see the photos of your mosaics!

At 10:23 pm GMT, Blogger Alex Bordessa said...

Thanks for this, chaps. I was thinking of making the gender apparent (to the reader at least, but necessarily the 'cast') about half way through. Would that be too late? But there are hints earlier on, when particularly astute members of the cast 'see' her.


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