A pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton, the conclusion to her Celtic Colours companion series (which can all be read as standalone), recently published by non-profit publisher Cinnamon Press. My thanks to Karen Bultiauw for the invitation, and for her support with the tour.
Northern Ireland, Good Friday, 1998. The Belfast Peace Agreement is signed, the Troubles are officially over. This should be the start of a new life for nine year-old Cian Duffy. But growing up in peace-torn Belfast is not easy and, when the sectarian conflicts of the present collide with his mother’s IRA past, Cian is forced to search for that new life elsewhere. His decade of Troubles are just beginning.
UK, 23 June, 2016: Britain votes for Brexit and new troubles threaten. Amid seismic political changes, Cian must somehow confront both the past and the future.
“White Leaves of Peace is a novel of youthful identities, the identities of individuals and the identities of nations. A fine-drawn novel of person and place.”
Graeme Harper Editor, New Writing
I sadly couldn’t fit this one into my reading list in time for the tour, but I’m delighted to welcome author Tracey Iceton as my guest today, to tell us more about her 100,000 word detour…
When I began writing White Leaves of Peace I’d written three novels, four counting a novel forever languishing on my laptop and five including the ‘novel’ I wrote aged 13. So writing another should have been easy-peasy. It turned out to be the most challenging write of my novelistic career.
The novel I consider my first proper one, Rock God Complex, was written to entertain myself. I hoped to publish it but didn’t stress about that while writing. It didn’t require much research and focused on the 1970s rock scene, of which I’m a fan so writing it was fun. And, happily, it turned out O.K., good enough for Cinnamon Press to publish in 2020 meaning ironically my first novel will be my fourth publication.
My Celtic Colours trilogy, part one Green Dawn at St Enda’s in particular, percolated in my writing consciousness long before I began writing. Time spent researching the history behind my retelling of the 1916 Dublin Easter Rising meant I knew where I was taking it so poured it out, making steady progress through the writing with the final draft closely resembles the first.
Herself Alone in Orange Rain, book two of the trilogy, was written for my creative writing PhD. The supervision team helped enormously and having two professional writers onboard, plus eight hours a day to write, I ‘dashed off’ a first draft in three months. There was editing afterwards but the ‘creative component’, as PhD novels are known, was far easier to pen than the critical commentary accompanying it.
Suddenly it’s 2017 and I’m a year from the submission deadline for the trilogy’s finale. But I’ve done this several times, so easy-peasy…?
One reason I found this book hard work was because the others hadn’t been; I expected it to always be like that. Also I suffered with post-PhD anxiety: what if I can’t do this without two supervisors steering me? I let time run me over. I underestimated how much research was needed because, being set in my lifetime, I thought I knew enough already. I didn’t plan it out. I hadn’t thought through the characters. I knew it wasn’t working but I couldn’t not finish it, leaving the trilogy incomplete so I had to find a way. Finally I surrendered, scrapping an almost complete draft of 100,000+ words. The book as it is now wasn’t recognisable until edit two – my third attempt at it. But it was worth the slog and, for the slog, I think it’s the novel I’m most proud of.
So to any writer struggling with a work in progress I’d say be brave: chuck it if you have to. Regroup. If it’s a story you want to tell, it’s worth writing right and you will get there, even if you take a 100,000 word detour.
Thank you Tracey – and wishing you every possible success with this one.
About the author
Tracey Iceton is an author and creative writing tutor from Teesside who completed a PhD in creative writing at Northumbria University. An English teacher experienced in delivering creating writing courses and workshops, Tracey won the 2013 HISSAC short story prize for ‘Butterfly Wings’, was runner up in the 2013 and 2014 Cinnamon Press short story competitions with ‘Slag’ and ‘As the world (re)turns’, which appear in the anthologies Journey Planner and Patria. She also won the 2011 Writers Block NE Home Tomorrow Short Story Competition and has been shortlisted for the 2012 Bristol Short Story Competition with ‘Apple Shot’ and the 2015 Mslexia Women’s Short Story Competition for ‘Ask Not’.
Green Dawn at St Enda’s, her debut novel and part one of her Celtic Colours Trilogy, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016 followed by Herself Alone in Orange Rain in 2017. White Leaves of Peace is the final part of the companion trilogy.
Tracey regularly reads at literary events. Her stories have appeared in; Prole, Litro, Neon, Tears in the Fence, The Momaya Annual Review, The Yellow Room and Writer’s Muse.
You can find her online on her website www.trywriting.co.uk.