Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Fires of London"

Janice Law is an author, teacher, and painter.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her latest novel, Fires of London, and reported the following:
Alas, page 69 turns out to be a half page, being the start of chapter 6, so a reader opening the book there would find a rather cryptic conversation between the hero, Francis, who is based on the notable English painter Francis Bacon, and the police inspector whom he always refers to as his ‘personal copper.’ How poor Francis, irrepressibly gay, promiscuous, alcoholic, and brilliant, winds up in the uncomfortable position as police snitch is a big part of the plot.

Francis has been implicated by stumbling over a murdered man during the course of his Blackout duties as an ARP warden. His uninhibited lifestyle has compromised him and his options are further limited by his devotion to his old nanny, now half blind but ruthlessly devoted.

His relationship with his Nan, which follows closely the real Bacon’s devotion to his old nurse, is the reason that I thought I could write about him. As a downstairs child growing up in an upstairs/ downstairs estate, I felt I understood that relationship very well, however strange and exotic the rest of my hero’s life might seem.

Page 69 does mention another point of contact between us. The historical Bacon had a rackety and ill-educated youth. Perhaps as a result, he adored Greek literature, never having been force-fed the tragedies and tested on the comedies. I gave him my own partiality for Aeschylus, particularly the great Agamemnon. The subject of his conversation with the inspector is a dubious theatrical whose fetish involves playacting as Clytemnestra, the murderer in Agamemnon. I thought this would be right down Francis’ alley.

Finally, though it is not mentioned in this passage, Francis is first and foremost a painter. He might be dancing on the tables half the night– and probably was– but he is up with the dawn and in his studio. The real Bacon had a strong work ethic. I kept that for my character, as I heartily approve of hard work in the arts.

Art keeps Francis stable and enables him to interpret the world. As both a writer and a dedicated amateur painter, I understand that perfectly.
Learn more about the book and author at Janice Law's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue