The new novel will be called “In The Dark” after all, and it will be published in the spring. Here is a rough outline of the blurb, which gives you an idea of the story…
Claustrophobic and gripping, this is a story of war, meat and desire, set in the sooty streets of inner London during the First World War. Eithne Clay is an alluring young widow whose husband has been killed at the Front. She runs a shabby boarding house in Southwark where her lodgers, like herself, lead lives of barely rspectable desperation. The War casts a long shadow over ordinary lives; times are hard while the men are away being slaughtered. Food is short and the old certainties are breaking up around them. Eithne’s sixteen-year-old son Ralph tries to be the man of the house, whilst the homely maid, Winnie, barely manages to keep it all together.
Then along comes a butcher, Neville Turk, a handsome bull of a man, who falls in love with Eithne and throws her life into turmoil. He wooes her with meat, and soon the erotic voltage of their affair wakes up the house like the newly-installed electricity. Ralph’s jealousy of this interloper grows out of control, while Winnie’s liaison with a blind lodger leads to startling consequences. Meanwhile, in this house of whispers and secrets, the butcher has plans of his own, which lead to a tragic and dramatic climax. Rich in atmosphere, ‘In The Dark’ is a sexy, murky and often very funny novel by a master storyteller.
It’s a strange, dormant period when one has finished a novel and it hasn’t yet emerged into the world – a period of nine months, about the same stretch of time as a pregnancy. The characters aren’t growing, however – they’re stilled where one left them, poised in their locked world until they are revealed. I feel very tenderly towards them during this time, when they’re still my secret and have not yet been revealed, blinking in the sunlight.
Meanwhile various other projects are chuntering along. “Call me Elizabeth”, the TV screenplay based on Dawn Annandale’s life as a prostitute, is written but won’t be shot until at least next year as ITV has cut down on single dramas. My script of “These Foolish Things” is coming along; I’m just starting on a third draft. I’m hoping, also, to adapt “The Bookseller of Kabul” into a film. The BBC film about Shirley Porter, which I’m writing for their “Decades” series of dramas about the last thirty years, is at treatment stage, and there’s been good news about “Tulip Fever”. A new script has been written and everybody’s very excited about it. At last… The hope is that it’ll go into production in the coming months. I can hardly bear to think about it, it’s been such a traumatic business. But this time I think it’s really going to happen. Touch wood…
As for events, I’ll be appearing at the very beautiful country mansion of Compton Verney on 17 September to talk about “Pride and Prejudice”; also at the Lichfield Festival on the 23 September and at the Jane Austen festival in Bath the next day. I’ll be reading from my new novel at the John Soane Museum, one of my favourite places in the world, on 11th October.
Hope you’re having a great summer, and all best wishes Deborah Moggach. Do email me at email@example.com if you’d like any more information, or want to ask me something.