• Thanks Garry for sharing this difficult struggle you’ve been going through. As a fellow writer, I empathize and sympathize both. Ultimately you’ll have to make the decision, but I would recommend the following: Don’t finish it for the sake of finishing it. In other words, don’t let the thought that you’ve spent all this time on this book convince you that’s the reason you should keep working on it. Do it because readers will be the beneficiaries, because this man’s life in your hands will result in something of value…Perhaps identify the ideal reader who you think will come away changed in some positive sense after reading about D’Annunzio. If that’s not in the cards, then go on to something else knowing you’ve not wasted your time, but learned a great deal about writing and advanced your own craft in the process . . . knowing that whatever you throw yourself into next, the work you did the past 8 years will show, and be better for your having gone through that process. At least that’s how I see it. Looking forward to learning what you do decide.

    • Garry Craig Powell

      Peter, thank you for these comments. I think that’s good advice. As it happens, I’ve already had a critique of the latest draft from a friend of mine whose editing abilities are superb–far better than mine–and he has been encouraging about it overall, although he recommends some changes. That’s encouraged me quite a bit. For now I’ve decided to go ahead, trying his suggestions, and see if they improve it. But I’m not determined to finish it all costs, and certainly don’t intend to spend the rest of my life on it. I’m at a critical point now. If I can turn it round, great; if not, I’ll move on to the next thing. All the best.

  • It’s surprising that you’ve had no interest from agents. It seems that historical fiction is at least somewhat more popular/respectable/marketable than it might have been in the past. I generally appreciate good historical fiction/fictional biography. One of the best ones I’ve read is Bruce Duffy’s The World as I Found It about Wittgenstein and Russell. I also liked Gore Vidal’s Julian; in that one he used a frame device of correspondence between the philosophers Libanius and Priscus for the former’s proposed biography of the emperor. I also like Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot, in which a narrator is on a hunt for a stuffed parrot of the author and in the meantime tells non-chronological stories from his life. I think frame stories like this can work well. Have you considered some other character perhaps recounting D’Annunzio’s posthumous life to the reader or another character? I am in the initial stages of my own historical novel revolving around Garibaldi and the Risorgimento, and I’ve decided to use a character who fought in World War II in Italy, 80 years after Garibaldi’s death, as the frame narrator. Thanks for the honest and interesting update on your work.

    • Garry Craig Powell

      Thanks, David, those are interesting and insightful comments. I really think the fault for the lack of agent interest might be mine, because of the faults the novel had when I submitted it, although literary fiction is getting harder to publish, without doubt, especially for debut novelists. I know Flaubert’s Parrot, but not the other two. The Duffy one particularly sounds interesting; I hope I can get hold of it. I agree with you on the frame narrative, and that’s how I’m structuring my novel. Eleonora Duse, his ex-lover, is visiting him at Il Vittoriale just before his death, and when he’s under virtual house-arrest, watched over by Mussolini’s goons. But the way I’m doing at present, it’s a sort of multiple POV narration, with D’Annunzio himself, Duse, D’Annunzio’s wife, and a couple of his later lovers (Luisa Baccara and Amelie Mazoyer, who was also his housekeeper) all making contributions. Good luck with the Garibaldi novel. That sounds fascinating, and I’ll look forward to reading it.