Last week I shared my Amazon Breakthrough Novel pitch with you and asked for your response. Several of you liked it as is; others gave me excellent suggestions for what might make it more intriguing to an agent. This coming week I’m going to begin honing that pitch to use in agent query letters. In a future posting I’ll share with you the process of finding agents to whom I might send a letter.
Today, however, I want to return to the novel on which I’m now working—Three Roads Diverged. Two weeks ago I shared with you the research I did back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Let’s pick up from there.
Crown published A Cat’s Life: Dulcy’s Story in October 1992 and then sold rights to publishers in China, Japan, Korea, and Germany. The advances and royalties enabled me to purchase a new Mac and a printer, take six months off from freelancing, and travel to Greece to do research.
Here I am on the road between Thebes and Delphi.
I’d wanted to see Greece, especially Thebes, since sixth grade when our class studied Ancient History. In late 1947 when Sister Mary McCauley introduced us to Greece, I saw Thebes on a map. Suddenly a frisson of remembrance about that city-state gripped me. In the depths of my mind, I could see ancient Thebes; my senses knew it. That was my first déjà vu experience.
In November 1993, forty-six years after my introduction to the Bronze Age, I flew to Greece with a friend. For three weeks, we visited many of the sites I knew would be part of Three Roads Diverged. We rented a car. My friend drove; I navigated. We visited Athens, Knossos, Thebes, Delphi, Dodona, Olympia, Pylos, Mycenae, Lerna, Tiryns, Nauplia, and Epidaurus.
With a small camera I took pictures, as did she, of all these places. As the months pass, I’ll share with you some of the ruins I visited. Sometimes the photographs will be blurred because I really knew nothing about framing a scene. However, they will show you the sites about which I’ll be writing.
This is the path at the foot of the Parthenon in Athens.
When we flew home in late November, I began to write. For six months I used all the research I’d done to produce the beginnings of a first draft for the novel I hoped would one day be published.
Then in June 1994, I ceased to write. Why? Because the words of a fellow writer had burst the bubble of belief I had in myself about being able to write anything well, much less a novel. From then until now, that draft—the first third of the proposed novel—moldered on the computer, awaiting the click of reactivation.
Then, two weeks ago, I printed out what I had—some 60,000 words. For nearly twenty years, I’d expected the novel—if ever completed—would divide itself naturally into three sections that would reflect the three Oedipus plays written by Sophocles.
Using those three dramas as a foundation for the arc of Antigone’s life, I’d weave a story of who she was, what she did, and why. I’d search out the definitions that prompted her actions. By doing so, I planned to fill out the bare outlines of her life as given in Sophocles’ plays.
His was the skeleton; I’d provide flesh, blood, tears, and sweat. Antigone would be given lungs with which to speak to a new audience. She’d be given a mind with which to enthrall us. A heart to woo us.
As I read those 60,000 words these past two weeks, I’ve succumbed to her charms. Now I’ve realized how best to present her life. I’ll share that realization with you in the next couple of weeks. Peace.