Week three ended in a bit of a blur, as I had a weekend visit from a very dear Spanish friend, Miguel, the guy who took care of me when I first moved to the country in 1999 (back when I could not speak the language). Beer was drunk, food was scoffed, and some favourite anecdotes were retold, first among them Miguel’s 1999 decision to fill my vocabulary book with nonsensical translations of his own devising.
With my long, curly blonde hair, I already stood out in the streets of his home town, which is far from the tourist hotspots. Once I began employing Miguel’s mistranslated vocabulary, though, I suspect I really became a feature in the town’s shops and supermarkets whenever I tried to order anything: Chicken Breast had been translated as ‘Lettuce Dick’; ‘Can you give me change, please?’ was ‘I have enormous bogeys’.
When you take your first faltering steps in a foreign language, your default setting is to expect people not to understand, so I didn’t immediately twig what was happening. This came to a head when I went to an ironmonger’s in search of a cafetiere, which Miguel had translated as ‘French Beret’. The shopkeeper’s confusion was compounded when I tried to explain that I wanted ‘a French Beret for to make coffee’.
Anyway, the weekend gave me the opportunity to sit down with a Spaniard and to gauge just how angry the Spanish people are with their politicians and with the EU-imposed austerity measures, so I will try to include some of this anger in the new draft of Stolen Lives.
Week four of the Stolen Lives rewrite is going to be a bit of a write off, as I have to deliver the finished manuscript of Broken Arrow by February 6th and have decided to make some tweaks to the book. Principal among these is a major change I have decided to make about Danny’s personal life. In Scarecrow, Danny met an Englishwoman named Marsha, and I have explored their relationship in Broken Arrow, but I now realise the way their relationship has progressed is wrong, so I need to change that, which will entail my having to read the entire book again, sifting out any inconsistencies this decision will impose.
However, during the weekend, I did find time to juggle all the scenes in the new version of Stolen Lives into a rough order, which means I can now trace the storyline from start to finish. This is vital moment in any novel’s creation, as the more dramatic scenes require space to breath. Piling too many, too close together is counterproductive and produces a melodramatic effect that is undesirable for a contemporary crime novel. (Watch the latest film in The Hobbit trilogy for a prime example of how back-to-back dramatic scenes serve only to undermine each other.)
The new version of Stolen Lives will be told through the eyes of three characters. This allows me to put the reader in the privileged position of being the only person that holds all the pieces of the puzzle, and to be able to second guess the possible outcomes of important moments. The primary antagonist has really taken shape as well, which means I can start thinking about how I want to end the book. (More on this in the next post, though.)