Friday, 21 December 2007

New novel idea

I might have known that once I got the previous novel all-but-published, the next one would pop its head up.

Here are my thoughts so far.

There are seven main characters. I think this one will probably more third-person, although rotating first-person might be interesting - hard to do, though. It's set in a kind of eighteenth-century Praguish place, to the extent that City of Masks was set in early Renaissance Venice (i.e. it has the general atmosphere but not the historically solid detail).

THE MUSICIAN feels like he's two people; a graceful, expressive master when he plays or composes, and a stammering, stumbling, almost incoherent idiot the rest of the time.

THE POET is, by contrast, not short of words, in fact he never shuts up. But what he can never find a way to express is the sense he has of something essential missing or lost.

THE PAINTER pays fierce attention to the world as an object, then vigorously depicts it, but seems almost blind to himself - and to the world as something he can interact with.

THE MODEL, the painter's mistress, is attempting to herd the abovementioned cats, with some limited success. She at least manages to make sure that they eat and sleep most days, and that many of the bills get paid almost on time. None of the artists notice this particularly.

THE MYSTIC is a herbalist, of uncertain age, who owns the house in which he, the three artists and the model live. He seldom speaks but is always worth listening to, and spends much of his time, when not making and dispensing remedies or meditating, on reading books with words in the titles that even the poet doesn't recognize. The books line the halls and other public spaces of the house; only the bedrooms of the three artists are free from them. He tries to live as the inheritor of the traditions described in the books, the previous living practitioners of which have all died years ago.

The mystic suggests, surprising everyone, that the poet and the musician might find resolution for their ills of the soul if they write an opera together, and agrees to tell seven stories over seven nights, from which they can select one as the story of the opera. The painter offers to design the sets.

THE FINANCIER is one of the painter's subjects, who agrees to be the patron of the opera. His money is inherited and his relationship with it is a difficult one, particularly as he suspects it wasn't earned entirely honestly.

THE DIVA is a beautiful young woman of peasant origins, hired to play the leading female role in the opera. The musician and the poet immediately fall in love with her, eliciting their finest work. However, at first unbeknown to them, she begins a liaison with the financier. The model befriends her, and together they... I'm not sure what yet. The mystic figures in it somehow.

Over the course of the novel, each person, without realizing it, chooses a story to live out from the seven told by the mystic, and their redemption is shaped accordingly.

Working title is Shadow Play, though I've also considered Shadow Work.

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