I’ve finished The Lockdown Tales: Emergence, which is the second and final volume of my pandemic Decameron. Unlike Boccaccio, it has a hundred and one tales, not a hundred, because I also want to make a kind of homage to The Thousand and One Nights. I borrowed aspects of that work’s format as well as Boccaccio.

When you use medieval models for your format you become extremely aware of structure and how your structure affects the meaning. Dante, for example, has three-lined verse (terza rima), in three books, Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso, which each contain three sections, and cantos in multiples of three. This near-obsessive interest in the number three is to make sure that in every way the poem reflects the Christian Trinity.

I haven’t gone that far, and anyway, mine’s a secular epic. But my Tales (if you take the two volumes as a single work, which it is), has ten characters and ten days on which stories are told. Each of those days has a theme, and the stories told that day share a kind of worldview. It should be possible to tell, by reading any story, the day on which it was told.

This is not a thing any sensible reader is going to care about, but I’m still pleased with it.

So where am I now?

I’ve proof-read The Lockdown Tales: Emergence, and got rid of about forty typos from what I’d thought was a carefully corrected, near-perfect text. There will naturally be another six typos, but those will hide until the thing has gone to print, and only then stick their heads out and pull faces at me.

I’m not sending it to the publisher yet because I’m waiting on my last beta-reader to get back to me.  Her feedback is always valuable, and I know I’d never forgive myself if I sent my manuscript off, and her collection of brilliant suggestions arrived after it was too late. So I wait.

I’m starting a conversation with the cover artist, Floyd, because I want this volume’s cover illustration to use the same format as for volume 1, but with more sneaky details and changes added. I’ll talk more about that when we’ve got a bit further.

Here’s the first pencil drawing of what became the first cover pic.


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