“She points the lens of the camera. He turns his head slightly. The light catches his brow and his silver, white hair. She snaps. He is lit like a Vermeer.”
A novel about light and love and loss and one man's determination to fulfill his life’s ambition.
“And when she died,” he says “the bed began to blossom with violets. And every Spring to this day, scented violets grow all around San Gimignano.”
One man. The Sea. One painting.
I once heard Maeve Binchy tell how people sometimes came up to her and said “Sure, I could have written that” and her reply in typical, Binchy, trademark fashion was to simply say “well yes but you didn’t.” I love that story and it illustrates how important it is to take pride in your work, even if you haven’t been published. Wisdom about such things comes more easily of course with recognition and a key first step in that process is the IWC novel fair.
This forum offers something quite distinctive from the traditional route of sending off letters and sample drafts of one’s novel to a cold list of agents and publishers and the long, silent wait for replies of any description to come through. The 2016 novel fair in contrast was for me an energising and memorable experience and I received a couple of expressions of interest shortly afterwards. The night after the fair, I wrote the first page of what nine months later was to become my second novel.
In April 2016 I signed with Paul and Susan Feldstein at The Feldstein Agency and the following spring, Paul added my second book to his list. In October 2018 Blackstone Publishing came through with an offer (World Rights) for this book and ‘Beyond the Horizon’ is now scheduled for publication in June 2020. Based in Oregon, USA Blackstone Publishing is one of the largest audiobook publishers in the United States as well as offering a wide range of titles in print and e book format.
Working with the brilliant team at Blackstone brings the actual reality of publishing fully to life with all sorts of new critical aspects now suddenly coming to the fore such as cover design, marketing, publicity, merchandising, sales figures, copyright permissions, retail outlets, social media avenues and so on. I have the highest admiration for Paul and Susan Feldstein. Having an agent whom you trust and can rely on is a tremendous asset. Writing is a solitary experience which I find cathartic and addictive. But without that first open door of the novel fair, I would by now like Shirley Valentine possibly still be talking to the wall about my stories. I am currently writing my third novel, touch wood, fingers crossed again this time.
I am a Landscape oil painter and well used to working on my own. I am fortunate in that last autumn, I was able to have my own studio built in the garden. This is where I can now write and paint in peace. But I do a lot of writing in all sorts of other places as well. I wrote much of ‘Horizon’ after dinner with the television on in the background. I wrote in cafes, on the train, in the morning, in the evening, in the car. And I still write like this. I often carry my notebooks around with me in case I might think of anything for example at lunchtime.
When I paint, one of the first and most important decisions is the size of canvas I choose. This determines the scale of the composition and the time involved to complete it. I work best when I’m painting quickly and freely ‘alla prima’ which is different to building a painting up in slow layers although of course I do add details and highlights to fine tune towards the end.
Similarly, when I write, I like to work out elements early on such as the length of the book, the approximate number of pages and then convert that into the corresponding word count. I then divide this into what I think will form the various sections of the book and subdivide these further into roughly the amount of chapters I might need. This gives me my canvas size into which I can then work freely and directly, ‘alla prima’ free flow style because I have an idea now of the scale. This obviously shifts and moves a bit over time. I edit the sections as I go and polish everything at the end when I can see the book like a painting in its finished entirety.
Kent Haruf once said that when he wrote in his shed in the garden, he pulled an old woolly hat over his eyes so he could fully imagine and see the scene he was working on. I think I might try this soon. See how it works!
For more about my paintings and updates about the novel leading up to publication
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BEYOND THE HORIZON By Eoin Lane will be published by Blackstone in June 2020.
“A beautiful and sweeping novel with complex characters and a compelling plot.”
Addi Black, Commissioning Editor Blackstone