Sunday, 30 August 2009

In a noose of light

Jack and Estelle arrive in Istanbul in Chapter 6 of the Winter book, which is about where the third act would be starting if it were a movie.

Having travelled a little in the Middle East, I've always loved the romance of the call to prayer and this was a scene we wanted to get in, but in the end the timing didn't work. The Orient Express pulls into Sirkeci station about forty-five minutes before noon, and it turned out that has quite a bearing on how things play out over the next couple of hours that make up the climax of the story.

As writers we have to kill our darlings, as both William Faulkner and Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch used to say. So out the scene went, in this form anyway, and now the train's arrival is accompanied by a purely secular chorus of brakes and whistles and puffing steam and bustling crowds. All still beautiful and musical in its own way, of course, but without the haunting numinosity of the adhan.

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