David resurfaces! Full text after the break.
Of What Is Past or Passing or To Come
A few minutes before I fell off the tracking board, I dialled my brother to find out how he was and what he’d been up to. Ian’s seven years younger than me, and as a child I looked after him while my mum and nan went to work, to keep the proverbial wolf from the door. Recently he married a lovely young woman named Claire, almost twenty years younger than him, and they’ve settled and had two children, George and Rosa.
So there I am, on the phone, asking my brother, “How are you? How’s things?” And he answers, “I was great up ‘til five minutes back. I’ve just heard. Claire and the kids have been involved in a car crash.”
While Ian works in London, Claire and he are based in Norwich, where – even as all this was happening – they were supposed to be moving to, having sold their flat in London to buy a much bigger house near Norwich.
Over the next few hours further news came in. Things could not have been much worse. We learned that a big estate car had crossed the road and hit Claire’s car head on, trapping her in the car, from which the fire brigade had had to cut her out. The kids – just picked up from nursery, ten minutes earlier, sustained far smaller injuries, but they were shook up and frightened. They were taken off to hospital even as the fire brigade did their best. Claire’s mum, who lived five minutes’ walk away from where the accident took place, got a phone call and ran all the way to the site, where she was told it was eighty per cent likely Claire wouldn’t survive.
The next eight days were fraught. Sue and I spent our time going up to Norwich to help in whatever way we could. Claire, meanwhile, pulled through. Fortunately her neck and spine and pelvis were all fine, if badly bruised. But her legs had been shattered and her lungs had collapsed. Not only that, but she looked like she’d done ten rounds with Tyson. Talking of fighters, Claire was certainly that. She had four major operations in the first eight days, pinning her back together again.
While this was going on, we helped Ian with the move – that, at least, went through without a hiccup. And day by day things got slowly better. After a few months Claire was walking with a frame, even if one of her legs looked like it was from Hellraiser, the Movie, it had so many pins and bolts in it. Why, she even managed to haul herself up and down stairs, she was so determined to get back to normality.
Last week those pins and bolts were removed and Claire put into a cast. The building work on their new house – rebuilding the kitchen and diner – has been done, and though Claire – with the new cast – has to take things very easy indeed, again it’s a big step forward.
Oh yes, and then during all of this, my mother took to her bed – for the first time in her eighty six years. The cause of it was viral, but she stopped eating and lost a lot of weight and the doctors found a lump and…
What it meant was that I spent days, often whole weeks, taking her for tests and to different hospitals, and… we got through it all. She got better. The lump proved to be a commonplace hernia, which she’ll be having taken out of her pretty soon.
And while that was going on, I was busy doing the editing work on THE OCEAN OF TIME, the second of the time travel novels, at the same time as I was writing the third.
In fact, I even finished the third (all 150,000 words of it), but then decided that where I’d finished it wasn’t the finish at all. So I sat down and sketched out a new finish, which I called SIX ENDINGS, because that’s what it was. And one of those was a novella-sized tale, called OF TIME AND TIDES, which has occupied whatever spare time was left after all of the above. Three of those six endings are now written, the rest of the novel rewritten and polished and ready to submit, and it’s much, much better than it was.
Six weeks work, that’s what I estimate it’ll take, and then my contract will be fulfilled. And then? Then, if I haven’t got CHUNG KUO up and running again, I’ll be writing BURYING THE SMITH.
I say that, but I’m also keen to get at least one and maybe two of the final books in the sequence – BOOKS 17-20 – written in first draft before the year’s end. Books Nine to Sixteen actually exist in final versions – rewritten and polished and in need of nothing more doing with them. And I have an American publisher interested if only I can get the rights reverted (which a dear friend of mine, Polly, who’s a specialised rights lawyer, is going to look at for me) and then…
There’s to be a new website. Covering CHUNG KUO, ROADS TO MOSCOW, MYST and other projects (one of which – ENGLISH BOY – you’ll be getting tasters from once the web site’s up and running). That should be in the next four weeks. And then…
I have four novels ready to put out as e-books, with maybe print on demand versions too. But that’ll be towards the end of the year, if I can get round to it. They’re typed up and ready to format.
Oh, and I almost forgot. I’ve been working on editing and commenting on my daughter Amy’s new novel. She had two fan fiction novels on line when she was late teens, with a huge following. But the new book – a huge, sprawling fantasy of 280,000 words – is really bloody good. It’s the first of five she’s sketched out (now who does this remind you of?) Amy, like Sue, incidentally, is an Oudot, not a Wingrove. So when you see her first book in the shops in two years time, remember you heard it here first. She really is a great writer, but we’re going to go over it again and again until it all sparkles. Until it’s un-put-downable.
I mention Sue, well she’s still working away on Coronation Street, the UK’s most famous soap, which has been running now for 55 years (yes, fifty five) and is the world’s longest running TV soap. She’s one of sixteen writers who produce five episodes a week. And she loves doing it.
Oh yes, and mention was made of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE. It’s being made by the guys (in the UK) who wanted to take on CHUNG KUO and develop it. Only, much as I liked them (very much, actually), they stalled over expressing their interest with a contract and so I went to some Hollywood producer whose last film made over 250 million dollars profit and was a keen fan and I sold the film rights to him.
And no, I’ve not heard anything yet, but it’s early days, and surely something’s gotta happen with all of these irons in the fire.
But now you know why I was radio silent these past six months. I was also just damn tired a lot of the time. For which I’m having tests. Because it pays to make sure. One of my good friends – a lovely man – is dying of cancer even as I write this, and I’d rather savour life for another twenty years or more than let go now because I couldn’t be bothered to make sure I was okay.
Yes, and who knows what’s to come. Who knows?
With which, I’ll say a temporary farewell and get some emails written, and pursue a few things that need pursuing, and… hey… imagine me this coming Monday… sitting at my desk, working on the final stretch of ROADS TO MOSCOW, a piece that’s set in 1609, in Stuart London… And…
Well, you’re going to have to buy the book to find out. Oh, and look out for an interview I’ll be doing about my part in the MYST project and particularly the novels. I’ll give Matt details of where it’s going to appear.
David Wingrove 15.33 18/03/2015
PS: and thanks to Jewell and Matt and Martin, GB, Lee, Adrian and Steve B, Richard A, Goonda and Marcus Fava… for caring enough to write. Thanks guys.