February 3rd, 2004

Dancing Thru

Co-authoriing frustrations

I am not sure if our alternative Irish history will ever get written. Why? Because I have a co-author (I'm actually the writing end, BTW) who keeps changing the plot and forgetting one needs to have *characters* rather than just events. Yeah, I had a frustrating conversation last night, where I kept saying things like "And how are you getting those 9-pounders across the estuary? The road and sea wall weren't there in 1778." And trying to establish that these things don't just *happen.* PEOPLE make them happen. And people have to have motivations. (This is the same guy who says things like "And when the defense battery hears the ships are coming, they spike their guns and run." Like it was a reenactment scenario. "Hears"? How?? It's 1778. RUN??!! Why? Where?) The problem is that it's originally Bob's idea, and I'm the hired help that's trying to make a novel out of it. Argh.

Of course, as he pointed out last night, we should be able to get quite a ripping nonfiction yarn out of the research. Because the more original source material I read, the more my jaw hangs open. I'm a premier researcher who prefers not just real data, but as much original source material as possible. Both Bob and I are Sherlock Holmes enthusiasts who like to analyze things that don't seem to fit--or do fit, in odd ways. And I'm finding that the American Revolution had things going on that would do credit to conspiracy theorists. (Ah, but in the late 18th century, even the Illuminati were a REAL group!) We are unconvering plottings that go back waaay before 1776, and connections to France and Ireland that leave me shaking my head. And at the heart of it all, a certain B. Franklin, who is orchestrating things right and left, then denying any knowledge of them. Franklin's spy network, whose letters long languished in obscurity, leaves me amazed. A footnote and a hunch sends me off checking something, and suddenly, there is a letter that makes it all make sense. Over time, the players have been fictionalized, or confused with others, or forgotten entirely. Hints given to me by an old historian in Kinsale, concerning Capt.Conyngham, suddenly make sense when I read an accounting written by Conyngham himself. Good gods, this man could fit the description of The Scarlet Pimpernel, if I read between the lines correctly.

So, what book am I really writing? I'm not sure, but it's certainly a fascinating trip, and worthy of any tale of historical derring-do. I might end up doing a series of articles for the history magazines, eventually, entirely independant of Bob's book.
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