Its fun to be back into the research and writing phase after spending 12 months re-drafting and editing The Unknown Concerto. (I’m still working on attracting and agent for that.)
An article from The Economist popped up on Facebook recently and led me to Nancy Marie Brown’s book Ivory Vikings (2015, St Martin’s Press) on the Lewis Chessmen. It initially caught my eye because I have a replica of this beautifully carved chess set and I always make a point of “visiting” the originals when I go to the British Museum and National Museum of Scotland.
After reading the article then buying Brown’s wonderfully book ( Geraldine Brooks rightly describes it as a “cornucopia, bursting with delicious revelations”) the focus for my next writing project became clear. The gap between what is known about the origins of the 92 chess pieces and their burial and what remains a mystery, albeit shrouded with local stories and rumour once again fired my imagination.
At this stage I am thinking of it as four longish (20,000 words) short stories. The first being in the early 11th Century when they are thought to have been carved, the second a decade or so later when they first found their way to Lewis, the third in 1830 when they were uncovered and sold to the museums ( Sir Walter Scott and his wife even make an entrance here!).
I could have finished it there until I read that at the time of the 2015 Referendum on Scotland’s bid for independence there were conversations about the British Museums pieces being removed from England back to Scotland. Hearing the call of the Jacobite’s once more the final story will be a contemporary take on the politics that continue to surround these endearing and alluring artefacts.
Have a look at some of the photos and links in Research and Photos page on my site /lewis-chessmen.html and I think you will agree the Lewis Chessmen may very possibly possess magical qualities then let me know what you think. Would this make a good read?
Jennifer is a writer of short stories, novels and a family history.