Hazel McHaffie

Something stirring …

We’re rather used to recognising acting dynasties, identifying young upcoming stars as son/daughter of legendary names, but it’s much less common in the world of literature. So I was rather taken aback by the blurb about the author Christopher Rice which appears on the very first page of The Snow Garden:

Christopher Rice is the son of Anne Rice, bestselling novelist, and Stan Rice, the poet.

Hmmm. I’d rather stand or fall on my own merits when it comes to writing novels, I think.

Anyway, that aside, this book came under my radar because it includes an ethical dilemma – someone deliberately infecting a number of others knowing he is HIV positive – and I do try to keep tabs on the potential competition!!

Two women dying in suspicious circumstances … a group of undergrads with rampant hormones up to no goo … a professor somehow linked to all of them … several people not who they claim to be – that’s the essence of the storyline. And it took me back to the days when HIV/AIDS was a ‘new’ and much feared incurable disease. I carried out research on the topic and met a large number of young homosexual men and drug users who were dying from it, so I could relate to this book.

But my novels are definitely not in competition with this one. Christopher Rice is himself gay and writes from that perspective. And it’s a far more literary style of work which unravels slowly and is steeped in complex relationships, dubious morality, haunted pasts, convoluted cult religious ideas, academic and personal jealousies. Way beyond my pay-grade! And definitely not my cup of tea.

But, for some obscure reason, what came out of this was a poke into the embers of my own writing fire, hitherto suppressed during the pandemic.

As I tramped along on my morning constitutionals this week, enjoying the blossom and the birdsong, the imagination raced away with ideas which throughout the past year have been vague possibilities for a plot and characters. Feels invigorating. Spring buds emerging in the brain as well as the trees …? Time will tell.

 

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