This month I will announce publication dates for Children of the Folded Valley, but before I do, I wish to relate a short anecdote regarding my late father, and the vital input he had into many of my books – including this one.
As any writer will know, one of the biggest problems you face when critiquing your own work is objectivity. How can you know when something is working or not when you are that close to it? Often you are far too personally involved to be certain.
There are really two ways around the problem. One is time. I often allow a few months to elapse between drafts so I can review the book with a fresh eye.
The other is obviously to rely on advice and opinions from others you trust. My father – who taught English – was my most valued and respected critic. I didn’t always agree with his assessments of my work, but I always gave his opinion serious consideration and more often than not concluded that he was correct.
In the specific case of Children of the Folded Valley, I wrote the initial draft in the summer of 2011, and went back and forth with my Dad; getting his perspective and ideas too.
There was one particular aspect of the novel I had watered down somewhat, as I was concerned about causing offence. The story still seemed to work perfectly well, so I didn’t give this issue much thought after I had written the initial draft. However, in April 2012, during a visit to Israel, late one night I telephoned my Dad on a whim. During our conversation he said he’d had an idea as to how the current draft of Children of the Folded Valley could be improved, suggesting this particular aspect of the novel be akin to what I had originally envisaged. I hadn’t read the manuscript for a while, so I glanced at it and saw he was absolutely correct. I thanked him profusely for his input, which frankly I think made the novel more relevant, more powerful and braver.
That was the last conversation I ever had with my Dad. He died the following month, on 7th May 2012.
Children of the Folded Valley is dedicated to both my parents (see below pic), but I will never forget the vital role my father had in shaping the final version.