I’ve taken some time off work to give some overdue focus to the novel. For the past week, I’ve been buried in writing, re-evaluating what I’ve done, doing new research and striking off in new and exciting directions.
It’s been a productive five days, I would say, and I feel a renewed sense of passion and purpose for what I’m doing, though my page count has not increased all that much.
The fact is, I had been languishing for a few weeks, not being at all productive in any sense of the word. I had wandered a fair distance away from the monks and their troubled monastery. And with all the distance between my daily work grind and my novel project, I had begun to think it was all a bit lacklustre, anyway. How could I inject a new layer of flavour, an unexpected panorama … or maybe a new character that turns the novel on its ear?
I’ve never been completely happy with my primary setting, for instance. The location needs to be near London, since a couple of the characters will wander into the city in June 1381 and get lost in the chaos of the Peasants’ Revolt. There are no shortage of monasteries within striking distance of London, it’s just a matter of which is the best one.
So I discovered the county of Kent, this week, and some interesting stories about the monasteries there, not to mention that the area was a hotbed of “smuggling” activity. Dover, one of the county’s more prominent towns, was the site of a fair amount of tunneling activity around Dover Castle and into the famous white cliffs. This, combined with the presence of a conveniently located Cistercian abbey just to the north became the perfect place for my monks.
Brother Richard was immediately happy with it. He felt at home at once, gazing east from the facade of the abbey’s church to the ploughed fields of Kent, the small clusters of thatched farm houses and gentle, tree-crested hills of Kent.
So now Brother Richard has turned his pointed nose away from me and turned to focus on the problems at hand, such as the abbey’s finances, the tyrannical behaviour of the Abbot and what to do about the woman who has showed up at Boxley. Now what about France? What are the four of them doing, standing on that rocky beach just east of Calais?