The story has taken ten years and at least eight complete drafts to reach its present form, spanning 2010 to 2019.

Oh My God! Are you Rumplestiltskin or something weird like that?.

No, it’s two books and that’s about 5 years each. Besides, this is our first effort at writing novels and it’s been a steep learning curve. Or it would have been steep if we had rushed it. We have taken out time and thus turned it into a gentle gradient, stretching over a decade. Also, in our defence, we adduce our philosophy as a pseudonymous, androgynous author, which is this: whereas some authors churn out a story every year or two – as if writing is just an assembly line, with something generic emerging at the end of it – Allan regards writing as something organic, like a tree that grows year by year, losing branches, sprouting new growth, feeling its way towards the light, a living history, in fact. The good news for the reader is this: the two books cost you about the same as two of the annual stuff, which means (lets get the math right) you are buying the equivalent of 5 years work for the price of one.

Listed below are some key milestones preserved in our records. Sloppiness is evident in the gaps and lack of system, because we were feeling our way forward at first, and never even thought of keeping a record. However, the plan was always for a large novel, on the scale of Charles Dickens or Walter Scott, based on a rich cast of characters, but with a vivid series of movie-like scenes. Ideas about how best to structure the story were a while in coming. For instance, it was only in draft 4 (2015) that we decided how best to represent different points of view, and it was only in draft 8 ( 2018) that we decided to break the story into two books, The Dance and The Tour. We could even tell the curious reader when the story was divided into 31 ‘Days’, and when these were subdivided into chapters, but the steam engine has enough carriages to pull already, so we won’t just yet.

2010: ‘Summary Outline’ (single word docx)

2011: ‘Outlines R2’ (folder of word docx, 56 chapters)

2012: ‘Outlines R3’ (folder of word docx, 55 chapters)

2013: ‘People in Tom’s Life’ (single word docx)

2013: ‘Parts 1,2,3’ (folder of word docx, 33 chapters)

2014: ‘Character Sketches’ (single word docx)

2015: ‘Draft 3’ (folder of word docx, 31 chapters)

2015: ‘Draft 4’ (folder of word docx, 31 chapters)

2016: ‘Draft 5’ (folder of word docx, 31 chapters, in two parts)

2017: ‘Draft 6’ (folder of word docx, 31 chapters, in two parts)

2017: ‘Draft 7a’ (folder of word docx, 31 chapters)

2018: ‘Preview’ (Draft 8, folder of word docx, 31 chapters)

2019: ‘Copy Edit 1 and 2’ (two folders of word docx, 17 chapters – The Dance)