Thursday, January 31, 2008

B Is For Beginning

Here's A Novel Way To Picture The Plot

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Have you ever taken a photographic journey through a novel?

I guess I'm lucky that I'm a photographer, because this means I can give you a glimpse at my next novel, "Muskoka Maharani", to be published by Penguin Books India. When I say "glimpse", I mean you can really see some of the real-life places where the novel goes.

This first shot (above) is taken at the U Dock of the Delta Sherwood Hotel in Port Carling, Muskoka, which is in the north of the Canadian province of Ontario. This is where an investigative Australian journalist must come in order to save his own career, his job and his way of life. It is here, in the pre-dawn light, that he attempts to interview a close-lipped woman in her eighties. Will she trust him enough to tell him her greatest secret, a revelation that could become the scoop of the year?

As you'll see in the post Booked For Life, my synopsis of the novel is simple and very brief....

The daughter of an embittered, hard-drinking Anglo-Indian engine driver from a little railway colony finally finds love in war-torn England. But it’s 60 years before she breaks her silence on how she helped unmask a German spy, and the aftershock takes an investigative Australian journalist all the way to the Vatican.

He thinks he is doomed and that his critical assignment has come to nothing as he spends a prolonged, uncomfortable silence with the old woman as she photographs and paints the stunning sunrise across the lake.


Eventually - completely unexpectedly - he wins her confidence. She spills out her life story, starting with her childhood in Marsdengunj, a remote Indian railway outpost, her time as a nurse in England during World War II and her eventual move to Canada.

She and the journalist spend hours in the picturesque dining hall of the Delta Sherwood. By the time she draws to the concluding portion of her life, the shadows of the setting sun are long and stark across the eastern lawn.


Among the high and low points of her life are:
  • A ghostly eipsode from her teenage years
  • Her mother's terrible post-natal depression that was not diagnosed
  • The breakdown of her parents' marriage
  • The mystery of what eventually happened to her mother
  • The teenage love story that seemed so terribly thwarted
  • How she found the man of her dreams amid the fear and loss of wartime
  • The harrowing retreat of an army officer at Dunkirk
  • How grave suspicions surface against a most unlikely person

But before she tells the journalist the last stages of her amazing story, she suggests that he should drive about 35 kilometres to neighbouring Gravenhurst. They come to this intersection .....


The description in the novel of Gravenhurst, a beautiful lakeside hamlet, is exactly as I saw it one afternoon in 2005, while I was photographing the area before taking a lake cruise.


But does the story end in Gravenhurst? No. What happens from this point on? You'll have to read the book to find out.

But now I throw thr forum open to every one of my readers. Now that I've shared this unusual journey with you, I'd be honoured if you could tell me what you think of it. Do leave me a comment with your frank opinion.

43 comments:

Andrea said...

I would love to read this book. Love the pictures.

Dragonstar said...

That's fascinating. If the story reads as well as the pictures look (are those colourful milk churns?) then I'd certainly like to read more.

Mary said...

David,

I am very familiar with Muskoka and Gravenhurst. You've picked a picturesque part of Ontario for the setting of your novel. It sounds fascinating.

When is the novel to be published. I would be interested in reading it. Be sure to keep me updated on its progress.

Thanks for inviting me for this sneak preview. Much appreciated.

Blessings,
Mary

Julie at Virtual Journey said...

Fascinating mix of the different elements; I've visited family in the Muskoka lakes. Uncle was at Durkirk - found mention of that in mother's diaries. Novel will have wide range of appeal...

Jeni said...

I love the way your writing just flows and if that is the same process you use in your book(s), I'd be willing to bet it is a fabulous story. Love the teasers too about what twists and turns await within your story so I'm sure I'll be on the list to purchase a copy asap!

Alison said...

OK..I am hooked, I want to read the book..when is it coming out??

Lana Gramlich said...

What a wonderful concept!

Kathryn said...

That sounds absolutely fascinating! Wow! And thanks for all the fab pics to go along with it. Well done!

RuneE said...

B for Beginning is a good one - let us see what you come up with for E... :-)

Kimberly said...

Thank you for this brief glimpse into a book that will be clutched in my eagerly awaiting hands the moment it becomes available for purchase.

Like Vegemite Vindaloo, there seems to be that same feeling of interwoven story lines merging into one whole piece. There is something about your storytelling style which simply enchants the reader.

There is a strong element of mystery in what you've shared of the plotline, and my attention is already captured!

lime said...

it sounds fascinating that the story spans the different cultures and so much time. i think i'd like to see how it unfolds and why she finally trusts the journalist. :)

leslie said...

You have me hanging on the edge of my seat here. This sounds like exactly the sort of book I enjoy reading - it has all the elements of a gripping tale. Like everyone else, PLEASE let us know when and where it can be purchased!

Gemma said...

I love a good Mystery...this does sound good. Have you finished the novel? Best wishes and kudos to you.

Dirty Knees said...

David,
Got your message at my blog...and yes, I know where Gravenhurst is. The Muskokas are a bit north of where I live in what Torontonians (people from Toronto) call "cottage country."

When is your book due to be published? How exciting!

imac said...

Looks like it being a sell out here David.
I must say it sure does sound intriguing and full of mystery.


My ABC is now up.
also next post =they are real

kate said...

Gravenhurst is picturesque. Your story will be the same, I'm sure.

DarylE said...

What a clever way to do things ... sounds like a good read

Merisi said...

It sounds like a fascinating story.
Have you read Ian McEwan's "Atonement", which had quite a stunning ending (I do not want to spill more here, don't want to spoil the plot for future readers).

Old Wom Tigley said...

Good Day David...
My name is 'Frank O'Pinion' from the Irish Book Club.. Old Wom Tig sent me to thank you for your comment today on his blog.

As for this post and your writing.. I have to be 'Frank' with you (because thats my name sir, so it is) ;o) I have always enjoyed your writing, be it in your posts, or your comments. Your picture taking is a joy and I for one have learned many things from reading and looking at what you do. Like not to point my camera at the sun. Or not to sit on my lense-cap.. oh! deary me no that one is painful now.
I'm sure the book will be a big success for Penguin and yourself. The pictures on show tonight are 'Photographs' of that I'm sure now I am. The old painted milk churns are awesome and as always I will leave here feeling much better for not stopping any longer... ;o)

Your friend
Frank O'Pinion Irish Book Club

smilnsigh said...

Great idea for an entry!

Mari-Nanci

imac said...

To answer your Q David, maybe wrong here but i'll try for this

Clarets Mad meets Womble Simon Wheeler

dot said...

I love the milk churns or whatever they are. The story sounds really interesting.

Bart said...

That's kinda cool! I've done that sometimes with those two mystery novel series I mentioned a year ago that take place in Baltimore. Gives them a larger sense of intimacy when you exactly where they are talking about.

To your question that you posted at my place, I was in the middle of writing my next installment when you asked the question. Feel free to go over there...and maybe feel compelled to give it post of the day. ;)

Lee said...

Both the old lady and the journalist sound like they'd be fun characters to read about. Is the book out yet?

Peace!

Nessa said...

Your synopsis is intriguing and I like the bull points for the highlights of the woman's life. The locales seem exotic and unique to me which is good, while at the same time the story line would have universal appeal.

Sharon said...

Hi David<
Wow this was a wonderful post. The pictures were great and I really enjoyed the preview of the book. I'm going to have to get it now! Thanks.

Epijunky said...

David it sounds fantastic... I cannot wait to read it.

Your photos are as usual, gorgeous.

Am'n2deep said...

I am so fascinated by the story of people's lives-even if it is fiction. Sounds very intriguing!

Leendaluu said...

:) I looked through the photos before I even read your blog entry and thought, hey! *that's* not Australia or India...that's my neck of the world.

I look forward to reading more.

Lilli & Nevada said...

Sounds very interesting and i love those colored milk churns.
I would love to read your next novel as well

Ida said...

Thank`s for sharing.
I would love to read it. :)

Mima said...

The book sounds great, and I love the idea of doing the synopsis with the photos, gives you a real sense of the setting!

I'm not brilliant at scrabble, but I'm willing to give it a go, I'm on Facebook under Jemima Dixon, and I gather that there is a scrabble application on there - I will have to have a look and see if I can find it!

VP said...

Blimey! I can't wait for the Book, David...

David said...

I love it! Sounds very exciting. Looking forward to the book!

Cheers,

David Webb: Photographer

Flassie's Fil'a said...

Great photos and looking
forward to reading your book!

Have a Blessed Happy Healthy
Fun Creative Thinking Year!!!

mrsnesbitt said...

How many of the headings could any of us identify wirh?
between us.......many!

Dx

D... said...

Very interesting! I'd love to read it when it's published!

VP said...

Hi David,

I've just looked up 'Vegemite Vindaloo' here on Amazon. It tells me the RRP is £11.99. and there are 2 copies available 2nd hand priced at £114.05 and £174.38!

I'll be buying 10 copies of your next book then ;)

VP said...

Hi David,

Here's the Comment I put up on my blog - but thought it would be good to put it on here as well:

Hi David,

Yes, unbelievable isn't it - I nearly fell off my chair when I looked! It could be your're very famous over here, or your 1st editions are prized, or the bookseller's having a laugh!

I know which option I'm going for ;)

I'll look into the supplier you mentioned...

As update to that - I've now got your book on order for less than 6 quid - bargain!

Max-e said...

Hi David
You have got my attention. It sounds like an interesting plot, so I guess I am going to have to read the book. Nice pics too

Katney said...

I love books with a strong sense of place. I love them if the places are very real places that I have visited. I love them if they are very real places that I would like to visit. And I love them if they are very unreal places that I would like to be real.

katherine. said...

I didn't take the time to read all of the other comments....but I really did enjoy the post a great deal...I would indeed read the novel....

the teach said...

David, you said you want a frank opinion...Have you read Atonement by Ian McEwan? Your novel sounds a lot like that novel...

Your brief synopsis doesn't sound anything like McEwan's novel but your longer description does...