Wednesday, 17 June 2009

1. In the beginning...

First things first.

This is the story of how a simple request turned into two years of keyboard thumping, and eventually resulted in a published novel. If I can do it... you can probably do it too; but there are things you need to know. But first; a little Shameless self-publicity...

The novel is the first book of an Epic Fantasy Trilogy titled:

"The Eternal Watchtower."

The book title is:

and is available from:


Details are as follows:

Paperback: 284 pages
Publisher: YouWriteOn; 1st edition (June 13, 2009)
Language: English

ISBN-10: 1849238162
ISBN-13: 978-1849238168

Price: $12.99 (USD) or £7.99 (GBP.)


One evening the phone rang. It was Sarah.

"Hi, Dave; sorry to bother you, but I have a real favour to ask. You're quite good at writing. I'm a little concerned about the kids progress with their reading, and wondered if you could write them some sort of Fairy tale to maybe spark their interest."

Being a soft touch; I agreed. What sort of thing was she wanting? The kids were aged seven and eight. She said she wanted something not too violent, but not too childish. Oh good! Plenty of scope, then.
I said that she should leave it with me and I would get back to her.

Being born in the heart of rural Gloucestershire, I grew up surrounded by myths and legends of "What there might be in the woods"…"What were the things that went "Bump" in the night?"… "Was that really a screech owl … or something else?" I decided to draw on the imaginings of my childhood.
It would be a take on the well-worn "Good versus Evil;" but, just to give it a twist; why not pitch it as if the reader was sitting in the presence of an old storyteller; listening to the tale being read? This might work... and it would give the kids imaginations a little exercise... and it wouldn't be populated with Elves, Dwarves, Orcs; or any other worn-out stereotypes.

So; the tale began. The first title, when researched, was too close to a publication by an American Authoress... as was the main character's name, to yet another publication's main character.
Moral: Always research every character name, place-name, and situation used, to avoid accusations of plagiarism!

45,000 words later; Sarah phoned again.
"Sorry Dave; you might as well forget it. Their father has just brought them home one of those damned hand-held computer games... sorry!"

I read the emerging story once more, before it went into the recycle bin. There's something there... I'll carry on, and see where it leads.
(Probably, not very far... who publishes unknown authors these days... unless they have silicone-enhanced chests, or can kick a football?)... and besides which, the original was written in close-couplet verse form... and that really is a big No-No for publishers.
So, with great encouragement from a very special American Lady, I proceeded to convert it into prose, and press on, regardless.

An example of the close-couplet original is as follows:

The Old Storyteller sat warm, in the fire-glow, surrounded by children he held in his spell,
the weaving of magical tales of imagining, mystery, fable, such things he could tell,
and, wide-eyed, they listened, and drank in the magic... such things that the grown-ups no more, understood,
of Dragons and Princes, and Maidens and Darklings; the simple told difference t'wixt Evil, and Good.
He read from a Mighty, and Leather - bound volume embossed with Gold leaf slowly fading with age,
these, then... The Chronicles of Falanholme; enchantment, adventure on each Vellum page.

Fine for kids... but...
Re-written, it read like this:

The Old Storyteller sat in his great, oaken chair close by the hearth, where he was warm in the glow of the great log fire. He sat, surrounded by younglings he held firmly under his spell as he wove his tales of Imagining, of Mystery and Fable. Such wonders he could weave about them; and wide-eyed, they listened, and drank in the magic of such tales of things that the grown-ups no longer understood. 

He told tales of Wizards and Warriors... of Dragons and Princes; tales of Fair Maidens and Unicorns, of Darklings and Ogres... the simply told difference between Good and Evil. He read from a mighty leather-bound volume, by the flickering light of the fat, honey-wax candles. The great volume was intricately tooled about with Leaf of Gold… with age, now fading dim. This then, was volume, the first, of The Chronicle of Falanholme... Enchantment, Adventure on each Vellum page.

That's better!....

Eventually; it ended up as a 400,000 word Epic Fantasy Adventure, and bore no resemblance to a fairy tale... it was more akin to Tolkien on Steroids.
Who would want a brick of a novel like that? Probably no-one, unless they were very bored... or suffered from insomnia. So, I arbitrarily chopped it into three parts, re-wrote the endings of the first two parts to link them all together; chose suitable titles for the three books, and a title for the trilogy, and jumped into the shark-infested waters of Literary Agents and Publishers.

Next time:
Swimming with sharks.

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