Development of a novel

Shadows on the grass and orginal ms

In an attempt to rationalise my filing system I’ve been sorting through the mountains of stuff in my office. Among the papers neatly stored in cardboard boxes I came across the original ms of my novel “Shadows on the Grass.”

The book tells the story of a family of Polish immigrants who come to the UK after WW2. At least that is what the final version does. I had envisaged a full length saga which would encompass the years 1863 to 1963 and take my leading characters on a journey from Imperial Russia, Austria Hungary through Khakstan, Persia, Egypt and Italy until they finally ended up in Bristol.

To write such an epic, I did a huge amount of research. When I started the project Google didn’t exist, so I borrowed books from the library and made pages and pages of notes.

Once I had enough material, I wrote the novel, initially by hand, then typed it up and electric typewriter. Eventually that version was transferred onto computer. At which point the market had dropped out of historical novels and my work was filed away for future reference. Or it was mined for other things. I wrote a monologue that was performed by a drama group and the treatment for a radio play that was ousted by an adaptation of “War and Peace.”

However, there was still a story to be told and characters who would not be silenced, so the novel took its final shape and in 2018 the second edition was published by Penkhull Press.

It was interesting to go back and see how much work I’d put into the process and also how I had developed as a writer. The final version is tauter and much better written. There are bits in the typewritten ms that made me squirm when I read them. All in all I suppose I have to be grateful that by the time the book came out, I had improved immeasurably as a writer.

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