I love challenges, but to tell the story of Victor Hugos experiments with sances in his own voice? What kind of crazy idea had I come up with? Surely it was lunacy to even attempt it.
I dont have literary illusions. I had just fallen in love with Hugos story and wanted to tell it. What fascinated me was how much had been written about his life as a statesman, poet and author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misrables, but how little had been written about a certain part of his personal life: his dabbling with hashish, his preoccupation with reincarnation and the more than100 sances hed conducted during a two year period while he lived on the Isle of Jersey.
During my research, I hadnt once stopped to think that in order to tell the story of Hugos seduction by the spirit world, I would have to find his voice.
But there I was. Finally ready to write, sitting at a computer in a very 21st century world trying to conjure a mid 19th genius. For weeks I was stumped.
Then I had a revelation. I didnt need to invoke the genius, just the man. I had read Hugos letters. I knew that the eloquence and brilliance of his poetry and prose didnt always exhibit itself when he was writing to people close to him. Sometimes he was an extraordinary man saying ordinary things to his family.
That was the Hugo I needed to find try to find. The one who was relating a tale to an intimate. Not writ-ing for the ages. Not trying to be brilliantjust attempting to reason out an unreasonable time in his life that had disturbed him.
But I still couldnt do it. The cold keyboard, the sound of the mechanical clicking, the icons at the top of the page, the spell check. All of it was a gulf between me and the man I needed to channel. I decided it was hubris to even attempt to write this novel. Absurd to try. And yet, I couldnt give up.
Carl Jung said that often coincidences arent coincidences at all.
One day in fit of frustration I got up from my desk in a huff and managed to tip over a jar of pens. One was an old fountain pen. It rolled and fell on the computer. I stared at it for a moment. What if
I found a bottle of ink. Filled the pen. Then pulled out a simple notebook and started to write. Not the way I write, on a computer, but the way Victor Hugo would have written over one hundred and fifty years ago. Pen on paper. I began. And as the ink flowed the words flowed.
I dont remember writing this book. Each day when I sat down and uncapped my pen I disappeared into the world of the novel. Three notebooks and 122,833 words later, I finished Seduction. The first novel Ive written by hand. Perhaps the last. Definitely one of the most fascinating journeys Ive ever taken.
I do very much hope it proves fascinating for you as well.