IS ‘SQUARING CIRCLES’ A BOOK ON GEOMETRY?
Like most of my generation, I was brought up to be modest and self-effacing. We were told to leave the praise to others and never blow our own trumpets. But O tempora! O mores! How times have changed. The revolution in book production, marketing and publicity means that nowadays all authors – from best-selling to non-selling – have to push themselves forward to be noticed. Not only do we have to blow our own horns, we have to get others to swell the chorus along with us.
Here’s a conundrum. Called upon to pick up a friend’s daughter from school recently, I was surprised to find myself the object of attention of a clutch of eight-year-olds. On the way home, my young charge revealed that she’d told her class I was ‘a famous author’. (They’d been reading ‘Harry Potter’ and the fantasy must have gone to her head).
‘No, no!’ I protested. You mustn’t say that.
‘But I’ve seen your book,’ she said, ‘and you’re on the internet.’
‘Yes, but I’m not famous.’
Scarce had the words left my lips than my inner voice whispered: Be careful what you wish for. Oh dear. I’d caught myself in a heinous act of subversion: namely, sending mixed messages to the universe. What’s the point of (quite understandably, surely?) wishing for huge sales on the one hand, while trying to maintain as low a profile as possible on the other?
Having spent months – years even – gestating a living, breathing book, we owe it to our creations to give them a decent chance of surviving and prospering. So here’s the opening reveille for Squaring Circles, due to enter the world on 26 September 2014.
The main character, Pandora, debuted in Transforming Pandora, which gives the backdrop of her life from the age of eighteen. Squaring Circles opens with her mother’s burial in a paddock in Glastonbury.
WHAT’S WITH THE TITLE?
You may well ask. One of the reasons I chose Squaring Circles was that the expression ‘to square the circle’ means ‘to find a way around a difficult problem’. Pandora encounters quite a few of these, the first at the very beginning, when her mother’s grave is disturbed. In an effort to find the culprit she turns detective, staying in Glastonbury, away from her family home. This is bad timing for her marriage, as her partner, Jay, is working closely with another problem – Gaby, a predatory singer who has designs on him. An extra complication arises when Pandora comes across Zac, an old flame, who offers her a tempting new job in a completely different sphere.
The title also relates to her social circles and how they could be healed or ‘squared’. Pandora’s present family circle includes Jay’s five children, three of them teenagers, unfamiliar to her until four years earlier. What’s more, a blood relative turns up whose identity has been kept a secret for over thirty years.
There are other circles, too: the Glastonbury community her mother was part of and the clients Pandora meets through the sound therapy work she does. And there is the Circle of Isis – a healing group her mother was involved with, which a scheming couple want to use for their own ends.
Finally, there’s a geometric connection. Rosemary, a character who also appears in the first book, describes herself as ‘a practical alchemist’ and practises her art within the Circle of Isis. A common symbol for alchemy is a circle within a square within a triangle, within a circle. If you look closely at the cover you can see all those shapes.
Have I convinced you that the title passes muster? I hope so. Just don’t ask me where the triangle comes in. Wait a minute, that must be the Jay, Pandora, Gaby triangle and the Jay, Pandora, Zac triangle. Thanks for helping me work that out.
There’s one more Pandora book to come, so now all I have to do is square the circle of what she does next and what to call it when she’s finished doing whatever she decides to do!