With only 8 weeks left to get some solid ground covered and make a good start on the pitch for my novel, I am feeling a sense of optimism towards the central themes, characters and settings – all chosen from a ferocious study session reminiscent of my uni days.
The book takes a look at the battle between a person’s morals and actions to survive, while providing for their family when pressed under the usual strains of tough social and economical times, with the added nightmare of being forced into war – having an idea of where you want your dreams to take you, but having no control over the situations that threaten to completely annihilate all ambition.
I have decided to set the story during the late 17th century and early 18th century, during the smuggling years on the English south coast. The reason behind the decision for this time and place setting is the similarities between the struggles that the average person faced back then, compared with the troubles faced by many during the recession of the previous years. As a person who has struggled in the job market since graduating from university – four years ago – as well as growing up on a fine diet of punk rock – these social issues have always driven my lifestyle choices and personality. However, this is certainly no opportunity to bitch about the establishment – the much-hated ‘man’ – another reason for my choosing to place some colour into the book by using the smuggling-era as a setting.
My interests also lie in the interaction between the classes. The huge taxes set by the king at the time isolates the working classes while the middle classes, or the law enforces, the judges etc are rich enough and harbour enough power to employ the fisherman and sailors from the coastal settlements to line their own pockets, with both parties benefiting greatly, while the smugglers, even if caught, were often spared the gallows in return for their loyalty. And the decades of smuggling, often freely under the noses of the revenue men, gave the king no choice but to relent the massive taxes, slashing them greatly.