Friday, 12 June 2009

Starting with questions, finishing with…?

Having sent off the first book with trepidation, I’ve started work on the second. When I say started work, I don’t mean writing. Like any task there’s a vast amount of preparation to be done before the actual act of writing (and a lot of work afterwards, but that’s another story).

I was inspired to go back and look at the questions that I had thought of right at the beginning of the first book. This was way back in March 2007. It seems a long time ago. Now I’m sitting here on our first sub-zero Celsius morning in years, trying to type clearly. It’s harder than you think.

When I started out, I wanted to know things about what my protagonists would have known in advance about Queensland, what they brought with them, what the journey was like, and the all important one, if they were tempted to give up, what their options were. I also wanted to know how they selected a claim, what they would have seen on arrival and on the way to Ipswich, what they would have seen when they got to their claim and what everyday life was like.

The first set of questions were immensely relevant to the first book. The second set of questions were bumped to this second book. I had originally planned to get the Jaeckels all the way to their new home in one book. This was when I thought I was writing a nice single clean stand-alone book. When it messily morphed in my head into a trilogy, I decided just to get them to Brisbane and make the second book about the whole process of settling into Queensland. In addition to the original questions, I now want to know:

* What the German mission in Nundah (or German Station) was like and if they went there?
* What were Brisbane/Ipswich/Frederick like in 1866?
* What paperwork would they have had to do to get land?
* Would they have travelled on their own or with others?
* Was their movement entirely free of restriction once they were in Queensland?
* If a bonded passenger had joined their group, how would things work with their government contract, ie, would the Jaeckels have to take up the contract on this person to keep them with the family?

Rather than keeping on referring to the first book, I should tell you that it has a title: “Outwanderers” from the German word for migrants. My spellchecker does not like this word at all. I don’t have a title for book two yet. I suspect, like the first book, it will eventually acquire a name somewhere towards the end of the writing. It seems like some kind of slow process: osmosis or growing a plant from seed (or having a child). One day after much agonising, a name suddenly seems to fall into place. It’ll be interesting to see what happens second time round.

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