Finally, The Space Between seems to have taken a hold of me after taking such a long time to get into it! It’s still difficult to keep developing all the threads (subplots, I suppose) at the same time, without really knowing the exact end though I have vague ideas with this of course, which is enough to go on.
I’ve been busy for the past month going over old bits and changing them or adding bits of background ie more about the east end, Harriet’s situation etc. but it was important to keep going on with the novel, you can have to much of going back over old things so I’m including some stuff which I’ve just written which is brand new, it’s essential to keep me feeling as if I’m going somewhere and feeling that I’m making progress. I’m sure that’s equally important for you as readers too; it will be interesting for you to read the novel when it’s complete, as it should be radically different from the bit you’ve read here.
All of the Victorian background I need is essential because I want to keep the novel plausible. But not too much authenticity… remembering Wilde’s phrase “Too much research kills the imagination.” Say no more… so I don’t want to get too worried about checking up all the details, like rents in the East End, the wages etc. But at the same time I need some idea of the value of things in the 1890s, so it’s a tricky business treading fact and fiction!
Writing this new chapter has given me a new lease of life, though I’m not quite sure why. Perhaps it’s something to do with bringing back Robbie Ross… perhaps he has some magic within him. I feel like I’m writing about an old friend… I’ve always felt a great affection for Ross, even more than Mr Wilde in a way. That’s unbelievable I know; but I can’t really feel too much affection for Wilde because I’m too much in awe of him… if that makes any sense. But as for Robbie, he was always a great friend… both of mine and Mr Wilde’s. So it was a pleasure to resurrect him once again and so far this chapter is writing itself.
In fact the whole novel’s developing into an epic, so much so that I’m wondering about turning it into a trilogy, which I’ve wanted to do ever since reading Phillip Pullman’s Dark Materials. But this may turn out to be just an idle jest. Partly because of the time span involved, from the early 1890s to 1921, it may need 3 volumes to cover all the different subplots and remember all the characters at the same time. Perhaps this novel will not be called The Space Between, which will be the title of the whole trilogy, but I’ll have to think about this first instalment.
I think I’ll call it something Wildean, of course, as it will cover the years leading up to his death, but I don’t want to plan too much at this stage… you never know what will happen. I always wondered if Mr Pullman intended to write a trilogy… but now I can see that perhaps it simply happened because that’s the way it’s developing with me!
THE SPACE BETWEEN
COPYRIGHT Nicola Batty (C) 2006.
PLEASE NOTE: THE SPACE BETWEEN IS A-WORK-IN-PROGRESS-NOVEL AND THE FINAL PUBLISHED VERSION MAY WELL BE VERY DIFFERENT TO THIS NEWSLETTER EDITION.
“One pound of apples, I said! Get a move on, love!”
Quickly Harriet turned back to the market stall, fumbling amongst the fruit and weighing out the correct amount. As she handed the old, miserable faced woman the paper bag full of apples she forced herself to keep her mind on her job – she could not afford to loose it. But all the time she was longing for the piles of fruit to dissolve away, just for a moment… and then she could return her stare to the other side of the square, where the small, smartly dressed young man had been standing.
“Here you are… sorry,” mumbled Harriet as the old woman snatched the apples from her hand and shuffled away into the crowd where she was quickly swallowed up. Already the market stalls all around Spital Square were alive with people, both customers and sellers of fresh vegetables, fruit and fish, even though the hour was quite early and a steady drizzle had begun to fall. Her eye swept over the clusters of shabby women around the stalls hastily, leaving the sight of them far behind and returning to that respectable figure who she was sure was familiar… so familiar.
Against this background… and yet he was still there, he moved towards her. Feeling the colour drain slowly from her face, she watched him approach, struggling through the busy market square to reach her. Or was he truly trying to reach her? Had he even seen her? She moved her hand shakily across her face, wiping the moisture from her eyes as the rain became harder. She shivered as she stood there in her thin cotton jacket, though she could not be certain if it was the cold that caused her to shiver or seeing someone from the past.
Her own past suddenly came to life once again, resurrected for a moment although she had thought it all over. All those years spent walking the streets, a penny here, a penny there… or memories of the Whitechapel Murderer suddenly sprang up again from the ashes, and would not lie down.
Harriet watched the well dressed young man stop at another stall several yards away, selling fish; his eyes skimmed over the stall only briefly, before turning to the watch he now drew from his pocket. Harriet saw a look of mild irritation fleet over his tiny, delicate features as he returned the watch to his pocket and turned up the collar of his overcoat, protecting himself against the chill spring wind and rain.
He looked remarkably out of place here, amongst the crowds of people with no hats, only thin shawls around bony shoulders and these were the lucky ones. Around the edges of the square were the outcasts and beggars, and children played amongst it all. It was all a game to them… such as the killings had been to the Murderer. Just then her attention was distracted by some older children buying a few plums and when she turned back the young man had disappeared. She felt her heart sink like a stone, despairing. Perhaps she had imagined him. But then she started suddenly as she felt a light touch on her elbow.
“Good morning… Harriet. Is that right, Harriet? It’s been a long time since we last met, hasn’t it? Do you remember me?”
Harriet swung round to face the elfin faced young man. He was smiling at her, his bowler hat raised in his slender hand. Just as she remembered, his smile was mischievous, like a little boy’s… like Jack’s smile. He didn’t appear to have aged at all since their last meeting in Whitechapel – he could still be no older than Harriet herself. “Of course I remember you, Mr Ross. Though I’m very surprised to see you here… I never thought that we’d meet again! Whatever brings you here?”
WATCH OUT FOR MORE FROM THE SPACE BETWEEN IN RM#74