Norwich-based writer Elspeth Rushbrook contemplates some of the choices she made during the genesis of her novel, Parallel Spirals, and reports back on what the journey has meant to her as an author.
Parallel Spirals had a deliberately long gestation. When I started, I thought that publication might be fifteen years away – which was exactly right. I’d put away an earlier set of novels and felt that Parallel Spirals and another novel I began in tandem were the first mature, publishable fiction I’d written. It takes time to see what you’ve got right first time, what needs altering, and the right way to do it. I’ve learned not to cut what was valuable first time and that my first edit is often not my best – nor is drastic and shorter always better. It’s why I repeatedly put Parallel Spirals aside after completing each draft and gave a year between each re-reading. I reworked very little and made notes. If I agreed with the notes three revisits later, I made the changes.
It takes time to see what you’ve got right first time
Parallel Spirals is Norwich set and penned. The city is almost a character – I’m even devising walks based on the novel’s locations. It’s about the power of cinema (and all stories) to change lives. It has two inner historic stories which include a subverted Jane Eyre and ‘free range nuns’. It’s ultimately about celebrating love, wherever it is found.
Self-publishing was my initial plan for the novel, and it’s interesting that it took a return to Norwich to revisit that idea and see its wisdom. I feel very proud of the result of the choices I have made and can truly claim that Parallel Spirals is, in every sense, ‘A novel by Elspeth Rushbrook’.