A Rock of Japan
On Feb 17, Dreaming Spies hits the shelves. As with the last few books, I’ll do daily blog posts from now until pub day, talking about various aspects of the book. There will be NO SPOILERS, I promise, other than telling you that the book takes place partly in Japan and partly in England. None of the snippets of the story I give will reveal any plot twists.
The idea is to enrich the story for you, with my thoughts about the writing process, or the research I’ve done, or travel I did for the book. You can also come back to these blogs when you’ve read the book, but if you read them beforehand, you may know more clearly what it is you’re looking at, when the topic comes up.
I hope you enjoy this posts, and that you love the book when it comes out—four weeks from today!
I turned my eyes from husband to granitic intruder.
Higher than my knee, with an interesting pattern of moss and lichen and a tracery of dark veins running through it, the stone had been planted—for planted was the word—in the herbaceous border encircling the terrace…. It looked as if it had risen from the Sussex earth long before juniper and peony were introduced. Before the old flint house behind me was built, for that matter.
A book’s opening needs to do just that: open a story to the reader, with a puzzle, a soupçon of the book’s flavor or concerns, something about the people and the issues at hand, maybe a suggestion of the period and pacing. Here one meets a homecoming, the taste of tea, and two people looking at a rock that should not be where it is.
And a door opens…
made up of rocks, gravel, and a few carefully chosen shrubs, but it is also the case in more natural gardens. Rocks are the bones of a garden, the solid form around which water (be it actual water, or that symbolized by waves of meticulously raked gravel) circulates or pools: hard and soft, the unmoving and the fluid, in an eternal dance. Rocks also play symbolic, or evocative roles in the garden, reminding the eye of mountains or leaping carp or—in the case of a stone that crosses the seas—a chrysanthemum, symbol of the throne of Japan.
My upcoming events are here.