How would your spouse react if you had relationships with other men/women? I told my husband, David, that I needed a trial separation from one other man, Harry, so I could take up with yet another, Alexander.
And David understood.
In fact, he was pleased. That’s the happy lot of a novelist, because these other men are entirely fictitious. (It’s rather like having imaginary friends in childhood.)
My main “man” for The Osgoode Trilogy (comprised of Conduct in Question, Final Paradox and A Trial of One), was fictional Toronto lawyer Harry Jenkins. He grew from a person frustrated under the thumb of his senior law partner and trapped in a dead marriage into a man with confidence and compassion. In life, you really can’t change people very easily. But as a novelist, you certainly can!
The Osgoode Trilogy—I suppose you can call the genre “legal suspense”—was inspired by my more than 30 years of law practice. Harry, a decent, reasonable and sensitive man, could not serve in my new trilogy—The Trilogy of Remembrance.
After all, the next trilogy was set in the world of art, not law. In walked Alexander Wainwright. It took a long time to get acquainted with this man. He is an artist, not a lawyer. Naturally. Art has always been my private passion.
So what’s the new novel all about? Passion, fear and revenge erupting in two artists’ lives—Alexander Wainwright, who has lost his inspiration, and his nemesis, Rinaldo, who is bent on destruction. From London, Venice, Toronto and New York, Alexander searches for his muse and finds an astonishing revelation.
At the root of this story is a momentous clash between two very different artists. Their visions of art are at war. Their fundamental perceptions of life spark discord at every imaginable—and even unthinkable—level.
Alexander, Britain’s finest landscape artist, wins the coveted Turner Prize for contemporary art. A magical, numinous light suffuses his painting, The Hay Wagon, and gives the viewer a glimpse of the beyond.
Rinaldo, Britain’s leading conceptual artist, has been defeated. His entry is a barb-wired ditch taking up more than 50 feet of the Tate Modern gallery. To him, Alexander’s win is proof that either the universe is absurd or the committee has been paid off. Rinaldo sets out on a desperate course to undermine, humiliate and destroy his rival.
One night in his studio, a frightening artistic vision seizes Alexander. Almost against his will, he begins painting misshapen, human-like creatures—the trolls—along the idyllic riverbank of his canvas. Questions beset him. Who are these strange beings? What is happening to his art?
Seeking vengeance for his loss of the prize, Rinaldo drives Alex further into a world of impossible questions. Is life random and meaningless, or has it a mysterious order? Is there absolute truth, or is life just a fragile tissue of conjecture? Above all, how can one live with compassion in this world? The journey ends on the Williamsburg Bridge in New York, where Alexander’s new art and his new life are revealed to him, ironically, through his tormentor.
Can you see why this is no life for a Harry Jenkins? I have more plans for Alexander, so Harry will have to wait a bit longer. The second novel in The Trilogy of Remembrance is provisionally entitled The Fate of Pryde.
Have you ever met someone who appears to combine the best and the worst of humanity? I have, and I really need to explore this personality at length—book length, in fact. Alexander has a new and extremely wealthy patron, Jonathan Pryde, who becomes the source of benefits and much conflict.
Right now, I’m about two-thirds through a first draft. Consequently, I still a lot of work to do. I shall keep you posted.
In the meantime, why not meet Alexander in The Drawing Lesson? I guarantee he’ll make you think about life. He certainly made me!
And, so Harry won’t feel neglected, follow his exciting journeys through the world of law where murder, fraud and deceit abound in The Osgoode Trilogy. That will give me time to work on The Trilogy of Remembrance.
Fortunately, my husband likes my men.