Another reason I’ve been scarce on this blog is because I’ve been extremely busy with that novel I’ve been working on.
It’s nearly done (I have about 3 pages of revision notes to implement, then it’s off to the publisher) and I have to say, I’m proud of it. I’ve managed to convey the feeling I had early on, when it was Jack and Count William’s memories that had come through; that is, simultaneously seeing the world through three different lenses.
During that stretch, in late 2012 and early 2013, my world became strange. Little details I hadn’t noticed before like dates on buildings stood out. Everything I saw, heard, tasted, smelled, or experienced was compared and contrasted with things I’d known in medieval or Edwardian times. The world took on a dizzying novelty and my sense of time on human scales became more expansive. I felt as if I’d just got back from the front even though that life had ended nearly a century before, and I often had moments where I was stunned that I was alive, breathing air, walking down the street, looking up at clouds and stars and sunrises. It was as if Jack, that proto-self with his own beliefs and memories, had woken up thousands of miles from Armentieres after a very long sleep.
I don’t know if I can ever convey the full depth of that experience or what it was like to live immersed in that headspace, but maybe I can at least touch on it to some small degree and give the reader some small measure of the profound disorientation I felt.
There’s also a gnostic subplot that uses a heretical group based on the cathars to make a point about reality, and a technician who died while working on a simulator and was memorialized in-world as a messianic figure.
There’s a lot going on in the story. Some of the battle scenes were extremely difficult to write (not in terms of putting words together, but in terms of having to relive my worst memories). In terms of style or plot, it’s not a great deal like Phil’s work except for the reality-bending simulacrum aspect (to that end, there’s a passing resemblance to A Maze of Death); it’s got more in common with Ursula LeGuin’s The Lathe of Heaven but even that comparison doesn’t do it justice.
Marketing will be a challenge for a number of reasons. As ever, past life claims are off limits in terms of making a sale because I want this story to speak for itself.
Knock on wood, it’ll be a good enough story to make an easy sale.