“…In the event though the fondant does come in handy after an utterly harrowing walk on the moors. I think I am doing quite well finishing mine in two bites but when I reach for a second I find the box empty and the last of the remaining five fondants disappearing whole into Wen’s mouth. She also seems to be crying.
“Okay, let’s find that pub.”
“Looks like the third book has started,” splutters Wen, her tears turning to laughter.
“So it would appear.””
In actual fact the third book has not begun… it is done. I had the text this afternoon to say that Stuart has just finished the final words of the last chapter of Giants Dance. The gazetteer… our poetic treasure hunt at the end of the book… has been duly inserted… and now we just have to edit. ‘Just’ being to reassure me that it isn’t going to be horrendous… not really… please….
Reading back over that October day brings it all to life again. It had been just a simple wander out to a stone circle on the moors above Sheffield. Just a gentle walk before the pub lunch… Yeah, right. One that left Stuart concerned and me in tears, stuffing my face with fondant fancies in a desperate effort to get back to normal, whatever that may be. I do not see things. Or I didn’t. Or maybe I don’t and it is just imagination born of the wild landscape and the research… The stuff comes with all the attendant emotion… stories of a time that was… perhaps… or maybe a time that could have, should have been. Who knows? With my antecedents I ceased to worry about that a while ago.
Take your pick, I’m happy with any answer (unless it involves men in white coats…) just don’t ask me to choose.
Be that as it may, it has become a part of our journey. We can be walking in the most innocuous places and there is a feeling of a ‘gear-shift’, a bifurcation in vision and I am watching… part of… another scene superimposed on the everyday world. I’m blaming Stuart, of course… it only happens when he’s around. And somehow, even if, at the time, it makes little sense, as soon as we begin to slot the events into the body of the book, it all falls into place.
It started at Uffington… our very first trip out into the landscape (apart from that first day when I‘d kidnapped him, but the less said about that, the better…). I put it down to the swirling mists and the unreality of the place. You can blame all the books on that weekend… it was where the adventure began that led us to write The Initiate and Heart of Albion together.
But the ‘events’ on the moor were not something we had come to expect… you couldn’t expect that…
Then see it all.
Vision is the price of sight.
You saw the flames, tasted the stench of burning flesh, the sickening lurch of hunger that smells meat in the fire, knowing it for your kin…Burning…
… You heard my birth cry… twice…
Once when the gates of life opened for me, marked with blood and rowan blossom.
Once when the knife plunged through my flesh, the blood dripped on flame, red as the rowan crown as the gates of vision opened.
Would you take my eyes?
Then there is another birth…”
Giants Dance: Rhyme and Reason
A new book by Stuart France and Sue Vincent