Monday, December 1, 2014

A Brief History of My New Book

A few years ago, I was watching an episode of a now-cancelled television show in which the villain, who was trying to unleash a biological weapon that would have decimated humanity, was stopped at the zero hour. Good guys win, bad guys lose, see you next week.

I've made no secret of my undying love for novels of the apocalypse. I love reading about the breakdown of society, following ordinary characters living through such extraordinary circumstances, and watching how they deal with the brave new world of the day after.  I had long toyed with the idea of writing a post-apocalyptic novel of my own, but for years, the setting was all I had. And it's not enough to only have a world wiped out by plague. That's a setting, a backdrop. You still need a story. A loaf of bread for your main character to trek to the store for. Otherwise, the characters are just wandering around eating canned goods.

But back to that television show. I started asking myself, well, what if the villain had gotten away with it? What if the bioweapon had gotten loose, and there was no way to stop it? I had this vague image of the architect of this disaster nervously waiting to find out if his bioweapon had been successfully released. He's sitting at a bar, drinking too much booze, his heart racing, certain that any moment, the feds will bust in, arrest him and haul him off to prison. I didn't know much about him. I didn't know why he was doing this. But I couldn't shake the image.

And I had the beginnings of the story. Eventually, I fleshed out the full storyline, or at least the early prototype, and I began work on it in June 2011. I worked on it for four months, wrote about 115 pages, and then stopped. This was one of the dumbest things I have ever done. I didn't stop writing totally, but I decided that this book wasn't marketable enough, and I wrote another book instead. That book, which I finished in April 2012, sucked, and I finally put it out of its misery later that summer when I realized it would need a complete re-write. As in throw out 350 pages and start over. That's how bad it was. Key takeaway: Never stop working on a book you love.

I flailed around a bit, and in November 2012, I went back to my unfinished novel of the apocalypse. Abandoning it had felt like the biggest mistake of my writing career. So I spent the next six months writing my big, sprawling tale about the end of the world, not caring a whit about agents, editors, publishers, contracts, or the like. I loved writing it. Every day was a joy. There were obstacles, of course, as no book of that scope goes off without a hitch. But by April 2013, the first draft was done. It weighed in at 180,000 words - double the length of any book I had ever written.

The book went out on submission in February 2014. Well, I wish I could tell you that there was a happy traditional publishing end to this story where the book sold for seven figures and in a dozen countries, but there wasn't. I was hopeful, but in the end, none of the publishers have come calling. That's been a hard thing to deal with, but I've made my peace with it. Because we live in a world now where the book still has a chance.

So as it looks like we have exhausted all the traditional publishing outlets, I'm going to be self-publishing it. I'm very, very proud of this book. Although the final version of a book never matches the author's original vision (which always is perfect), I can say that this is as close as I could have hoped to come.

I hope you will stick around as I bring you THE IMMUNE, one way or the other....

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