In The Dark Trilogy, I created a literary alter ego – Trystan Lewis – named Trystan as I had a vague idea when I began writing – all those years ago – to link him in some way with the Tristan in The Romance of Tristan and Iseult. I never found a way to make that work but kept the name! Lewis, the surname, after the old nickname I had been given when I first went to sea, Louis (as in Louis Armstrong or Satchmo). A few months ago I was reading an article about James Joyce which reminded me that Stephen Dedalus was Joyce’s literary alter ego and, in turn, that reminded me of my original plan… and I began plotting… planning… and a new book was born! While I have made no attempt to write a modern version of The Romance of Tristan and Iseult, all of the main chapters are named for the chapters in the Romance and each chapter has thematic links and some reference point to the original. Character names are all drawn from the original: for example, Trystan’s good friend George Knight is named for Gorvenal (the word means knight). The story follows Trystan and George through a twenty-four hour period and deals with fate and the downwards spiral of events caused by drink, much in the way of Charles Jackson’s The Lost Weekend. Although the story is centred in a small Welsh town, as with much of my writing the sea is central to, and surrounds, the story and among many, often hidden, literary allusions, Moby Dick is referenced at both the beginning (Trystan “sailed about a little [on] the watery part of the world”) and the end (“the great shroud of the sea rolled on”) of the story.
So Trystan lives on!
I do like the idea of extending story lines so, as well as Trystan, several other characters from The Dark Trilogy also appear in, and indeed are the subject of, some of my short stories.
I have a publishing programme planned and expect to publish a poetry chapbook very soon, before – early next year – the short story collection. Trystan and a further collection of poems should follow soon after that. [Order of publication may be subject to change!]
Watch this space!