In 2003, I completed my first ever novel, The War. It followed me from my Masters to my first ever placement and all the way to the Army. It took me exactly 3 years to finish the first draft and I almost cried when I wrote THE END. That first draft was a beast; an ambitious fantasy/sci-fi epic full of theological/philosophical symbolism and metaphor that stood at a monstrous 180,000 words (about 400 double-spaced Word pages). A no-no in publishing terms.
The second draft came a lot later, around 2007. It dramatically rearranged the structure, trimmed a lot of fat, introduced some new stuff, and took out much of that first-timer pretension in language and style. Result: 167,000 words. Still too long for a debut. Shelved until further notice.
The War taught me a lot. It taught me the difference between wanting to write a novel and actually doing it. It taught me that I absolutely loved writing and it taught me that, although I loved reading it, fantasy was not my genre. I couldn’t write characters saying “Sire” and “Highness” and take them seriously. And I need to take my characters very seriously.
Fact was, I discovered that I preferred the style and genre-blend that I do now. Sci-fi. Psych-thriller. Crime-thriller. Hard-boiled. Redemption themes. Some madness. Symbolism. Ambiguity. Weird scenes. Fourth-wall smashing. Four novels later, I’m still doing it.
So, what of The War? After a few failed attempts to find an agent (I’m still looking, hint-hint), I shelved it, hoping that one day I’ll be popular enough to get a publisher interested. But since that day seems less and less likely, I thought that I could at least share a small excerpt from it with you. It might not make much sense in a vacuum, but it’s meant to be evocative rather than informative. I hope you enjoy it, and, as always, if you’d like to read the whole novel (I dare you), let me know.
This is from the end of the PROLOGUE, the first of the four parts of the book. The chapter is called The Flood. This is Michael, survivor of the crashed starcraft Pegasus.
The day came when he decided that it was time to leave the mountain. It was easy, since he didn’t need food or supplies. The things that once belonged to the people of the Pegasus he left in the cave, which he would visit it repeatedly in the future to ponder on the writings of the books he had salvaged.
But that was yet to happen; now it was time to leave. On the eve of that first departure, Michael stood once more on the mountaintop where snow had begun to fall once more, and looked at the sunset.
It was a majestic site. The Sun was a crimson plate to the west, and the last rays of the day exploded in gold on the earthy carpet below. Michael watched it as the cold wind tousled his hair, the orange light painting his face with the colours of renaissance, and for the first time in his existence, he felt it.
He felt human.
It was the feeling that would lead Michael in his journeys during the coming years. It was the feeling that would make him that which he was to become.
As Michael looked on, he felt that he was not seeing the birth of a new world, but just the death of an old one. He did not see the dawn of a new era, but just the evening of an old one. It was not a Genesis – it was a Revelation.
For the first time in his short life, Michael wept.
He was human.
The Sun dropped slowly behind the rugged horizon, dragging the peplum of night behind it; the stars found their place in the crystal dome and time galloped along his lengthy path ahead.
The light faded and gave its place to the shadows of the world.
And darkness covered the land.
Thanks for reading. I don’t write like that anymore. Next time, I’ll show you how I write now.