Thursday, April 14, 2005

Out and about in NYC and second novels

Tuesday was a great day to be in NYC. The weather was crisp, people were still dressed in light coats and jackets, yet everywhere was the energy and promise of forthcoming summer. I lingered for a while in Times Square, right beside the ABC news studio where Charlie and Diane hold court, and watched the crew dismantling the stage where Mariah Carey had appeared to promote her latest album. (I didn't see her as I was on the way to catch the bus into the city while she was appearing.) What truly fascinated me is how compact and sophisticated the stage was. It was in the process of being 'dismantled' and looked like a giant white sea container, was mounted in the air with its large wheels on display, and the stage roof and floor--operated by hydraulics--lazily folded in on itself rather like a seagull's outstretched wings immediately after the bird has landed so that they formed the roof and walls of the container. After the hydraulics had finished this process, the wheels lowered to the ground and the unit was ready to be attached to a truck and driven off. All about me were stagehands stacking chairs and fitting lighting and speakers into boxes.

At my publisher, I saw a mock-up of the new paperback cover for A Son Called Gabriel and am well-pleased. The original photograph of a young boy running along a wire fence remains on the front, together with the words "A Booksense Pick", and on its back are its literary award nominations and snippets and snippets of reviews from publications all over the country.

Currently, I'm starting to think about shopping around my next novel Unusual Steps. It's what I refer to as a dark comedy, set in London, and has an offbeat plot and characters and thus is not like my first novel. The work I'm writing at the moment is set in the United States--my first work set in America--and its style is similar to Gabriel. My dilemma is, I don't know which one to choose as my follow-up novel--some reviewers and critics refer to second novels as 'sophomore novels'--and I'm really rather anxious about it. I like writing in both styles and am not interested in writing 'the same kind of story only different'--publishers like that because of the hook--and will have to rely on expert advice because I have no experience here.

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