What’s To Come In 2016
The Girl With Two Souls / The Girl With One Friend / The Girl With No Soul
The Conscientious Objector
In September 2013 I was watching the Channel 4 news one evening when I began thinking about a writing project that had been bubbling up from my subconscious. Unusually for me the title had come first, and I’d had it for quite a while – The Girl With Two Souls.
Who was this girl? When and where did she live?
Suddenly a few ideas popped into my head. I grabbed an empty notebook and began jotting down the ideas as they arrived. Soon it was a deluge. When I looked up, two hours had passed by – in a subjective twenty minutes. I had outlined the entire structure of the trilogy: all the main characters, what would happen, how, where, when and why.
It’s great when these things occur. As I fleshed out the trilogy in the months that followed I began to get really excited about the work. I decided it would have a steampunk flavour (I was reading a bit of steampunk at the time) and would be set in 1910. The characters were alive and ready for the work; every last one of them.
By the time I reached the final day of the winter term at the college where I’m employed I was very keen to get going. I wrote the first fifteen chapters over the two week holiday – an exhilarating experience – then finished up during the following fortnight. I sensed at the time that I might have something a little different to my earlier books – the novel leaped out of my mind as though fully formed before writing. I’ve only had that experience a few times in my writing life (the first being the novel that became my debut Memory Seed).
During Easter I wrote the second volume, The Girl With One Friend, then during the winter holiday of 2014-15 the concluding novel The Girl With No Soul.
During the year I’d had a feeling that a supplementary novel was required, following the story of one of the two main characters, so I prepared, and have just finished writing, The Conscientious Objector; a long novel for me at 150,000 words, which is set in WW1 times.
Infinity Plus Books tentatively hopes for publication of this trilogy around autumn, with the fourth novel a little later.
So, what’s it all about?
Kora is the main character: the girl of the title. The illegitimate daughter of Victorian Britain’s greatest engineer – the man who designed and builds the human-like automata who do much of the work in the British Empire – and one of his African servants, she is first encountered by the reader in Bedlam, where she has been thrown by her father. For Kora, it seems, has two souls: she and Roka alternate day by day, each following the other, each waking in the morning. Two in one.
Rescued from Bedlam by the enigmatic Dr Spellman, who admits to once being her father’s closest confidant, Kora begins a journey into her past, hoping for the truth about her father and his automata. But her father is desperate to find her, because of a terrible secret that exists inside the Factory where all his automata are manufactured…
Although the novel closely follows the story of Kora and her best friend Erasmus Darwin (grandson of Charles Darwin), the underlying theme of the books is the specifics of the human condition, a theme carried both by the main characters and by the nature of the automata who populate Edwardian Britain. A book-within-a-book also carries this theme – a work by one Reverend Carolus Dodgson, taken to heart by Kora, which she carries wherever she goes…