Sunday, 29 October 2017 / Leave a Comment

In an earlier post, I talked about characterization, and the editing history of my debut novel The Butterfly and the Wheel (Knox Robinson Publishing). For those who have not read the book (and to help make sense of this post), here’s the logline:

A second-rate writer passes off a stolen manuscript as his own, and ascends to the summit of soviet society

In Turgenovsky, the second-rate writer mentioned above, I wanted to create a character full of contradictions, at once odious yet charming, ingratiating yet self-interested, a man without convictions who has an unwitting impact on the earth-shattering events surrounding the Russian Revolution. Initially, the first three chapters flitted back and forth in time and place.

In the opening chapter, set in the late-sixties, Turgenovsky returns to his home town for an unveiling of a statue in his honour, but is more interested in bedding the Regional Party Secretary’s teenage niece.

In the second chapter, set in 1916, Turgenovsky gets mistakenly arrested with a gang of Anti-Tsarist students. This starts a chain of events which sees him rub shoulders with Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, the apolitical chancer becomes, through an instinct for survival, an important and trusted figure in revolutionary circles.

In the original version of the novel, Chapter Three travels further back in time, when Turgenovsky, a green-behind-the-ears provincial teenager, arrives in St. Petersburg to work at his uncle’s print works. There he is exposed to poverty, filth, degradation, working-class misery in its manifold and grotesque guises. By chance, the factory owner takes a shine to the young man. He offers to help educate him, inviting him round to his lavish apartment for tutoring, where he is ultimately groomed and seduced. Hence, a scholarship at a fine university and his induction into the finer things in life – art and literature - culminating in his role in the murder of Rasputin.

 Over the three years it took me to write the novel, I decided to discard this entire chapter. My reasons were varied. It was the longest chapter in the book, running at around 50 pages. The essential plot twists I worked into proceeding chapters, leaving out, amongst other things, Turgenovsky’s involvement in Rasputin’s murder. Now, on reflection, I look back and think it should really have been included in the novel, along with another 45,000 words that made it onto the editing room floor. For that reason, I’ve uploaded the chapter in his entirety onto Wattpad, in (0 digestible parts. If you’ve read the novel, I’m sure you will enjoy them.

Clink in the link below to read Chapter One:


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