Today, in a rainy, windy Canterbury, I’ve been working on a really crucial scene in my new book. It’s one of those scenes that a book absolutely turns on. But, despite the fact that I’ve known it was coming since I started the book, it’s been excruciating to try and get into. Industrial quantities of tea has been consumed, much creative thinking has been done whilst ironing shirts has been (does anybody else think about their writing whilst ironing – seems to free something up in me…) and many false starts have fallen to the delete button.
Why all this angst? Because I’ve had to decide whose point of view it’s going to be told in. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, the new book has three narrators. As each has a very different voice and outlook on the unfolding story, the decision as to who gets to tell this central scene is really important. Because they share the same story but their take on it is very different.
The book I’m reading at the moment – Ben Elton’s High Society – also has many narrators, but they’re all telling their own interweaving stories. Not sure whether that’s easier or more difficult but it looks easier from where I’m sitting.
High Society is about the legalisation of drugs. I’m fascinated by the way Ben Elton approaches the idea through the personal stories of an MP throwing the hat of his career into the legalisation-ring, a drug-addicted teenage prostitute with a history of abuse, a pop-star with all the substance abuses of a Pete Doherty and a policeman with a family to protect. I haven’t worked out yet where Elton stands on the subject of drug legalisation (just as it was difficult to work out his stance on film violence in Popcorn) as all his characters speak with such conviction from their various standpoints, but I’ll be interested to see how he navigates towards the end of the book and who tells which bits!