Plight of the Tivinel


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I began writing this book in November 2011, just a few weeks after the launch of Cry of the Bunyips. At the time I was suffering a severe bout of Meniere's disease and hoped a new novel might take my mind off it, but unfortunately I reached about page four where I became mired in the Sunnygrove classroom and progress stalled. It was to be another two years before I completed Part One, but once Joel came back into the story in Part Two, things really started moving and nine months later the whole book was finished.

With the opening of the story following on directly from the epilogue of Cry of the Bunyips, I'd envisaged that it'd be principally about completing Pedro's circle from the moment in which he finds himself in 1989 to the fifteenth of February 1997 when his essence originally split from Peter. Eight years of adventure should give me plenty of scope to fill a book, I naively thought, but almost straight away it began following a different tack, ultimately leading Pedro to an unexpected fate.

Also in the back of my mind was the idea of Joel and Loraine spending their gap year walking barefoot along the Paths of Saint James through France and Spain, following the example set by Marco Peel's characters Dominic and Nastasha in his novel A Parallel Path. That they'd strike trouble along the way was clear from the start, but what form it would take was less obvious.

A third thought, which I mentioned in my commentary on Cry of the Bunyips, was the growing resentment amongst the peasants of Sontar, Amber and Ignus and a likely flashpoint involving that galaxy's new Supreme Councillor. The mining world of Ignus in particular was one I wanted to visit and I even drafted half a page in which the uprising began, but by the time I reached Part Three, The Fires of Ignus, the nature of that uprising also became quite different.

You may have noticed that so far there's been no mention of any Tivinel. For a novel entitled Plight of the Tivinel, that became a serious problem when I neared the end of Part Two and still none had appeared. But, as Shakespeare so wonderfully put it, they come not single spies but in battalions, and before I knew it, I had Tivinel popping out my ears!  Which brings me to the final idea, that of the threat posed by any living Tivinel and Barungi who might cross-breed to create a new Pasha, the omnipotent telepathic ruler of the universe. In The Mind of the Dolphins, Pip said, "With the death of the Tivinel there can never be another Pasha", but he was wrong, oh so very wrong.

If you've finished the book and would like to see some of my thinking behind how it all came together, click here to view my full commentary.