As I complete the final work – edits, cover etc – on my new novel Beastings I’ve been thinking about its predecessor, Pig Iron….
It seems like every time I start a new novel it is in a new house. I wrote my book Richard in Nunhead, South London and upon its completion in early 2009 we left the capital (after 12 years) and moved to the Upper Calder Valley.
By the time Richard was published in late 2010 the city seemed like a long way away and I was well into writing the first draft of Pig Iron. I worked on it in the house below, a rented cottage built in 1641 (making it as old as any building in North America).
It was summer when I started.
And in the autumn it changed colour. I completed it the following spring.
By the time Pig Iron was published in 2012 I had written the first draft of my new book Beastings and had moved again (1 mile along the road). It has since undergone eight re-writes.
In the meantime I am working on a new novel, in this new home, and from my office window I can see the across the valley to house in which Ted Hughes was born.
And out the back looms Scout Rock, about which Hughes wrote: “It was a darkening presence, like an over-evident cemetery. Living beneath it was like living in a house haunted by a disaster that nobody can quite believe ever happened, though it regularly upsets sleep….”