Tony and I arrived at Rob’s to be greeted by the news that we were his only guests that evening. Chris was working, Linda had to prepare for a last minute breakfast meeting and Izzie had been taken ill. Rob quickly discussed the rules of engagement: he wanted us in and out quickly so he could watch the second half of the footie!
The news report was a bulletin rather than Newsnight. Tony has been working on his novel. He has also had his article: ‘Phenomenology (thank goodness this is a blog and not a pod-cast!) in Mental Health Research,’ published in Mental Health Nursing. Rob has submitted his second novel to an independent publisher and I had been heartened by some positive feedback about my latest children’s picture book.
Rob was reading and had submitted the second chapter from his novel, ‘The Petrified Fountain.’ He was a little over the word count: 2, 800 rather than 2, 000 words. ‘You don’t have to read all of it,’ his email had explained but neither Tony nor I had been able to resist Rob’s pacy chapter opening. Tony thought the piece well-crafted and extremely poignant. But Tony felt that the main character needed to nag his mother more before she gave in to the idea of the school trip. I’ll bet Tony, it’s not often that you ask for more nagging! A couple of hyphen problems and the mysterious case of the vanishing sister were also solved by Tony.
There was plenty in this piece that I identified with; it was a great read and Rob had built the tension up carefully. Rob had mentioned a pink, frilled light shade in his description which had made me think about the ones trimmed with brocade and adorned with tuffety tassles. Following this discussion Rob changed his description to include a coloured glass shade which he felt captured the period more vividly. Tony and I had both been in agreement that an outside courtyard was far too grand for a two-bedroomed terrace. I was very pleased to be able to pick Rob up on a couple of continuity issues. The protagonist had described himself as tidy then later replaced some items haphazardly. Although his school reports had described that he ‘could do better’ and ‘try harder’ he had managed to win the sixth-form essay prize. Trying harder and the desire to do better are at the centre of what the Severn Valley Authors are about.