This month I have not had a day-job, and so for the first time have had enough free time to work like a full time writer.
This is the novel I have been waiting eleven and a half years to write. I wrote the manuscript in five weeks, and spent a week polishing and revising.
I sent it off to Castalia House this Monday, so keep your fingers crossed for me. (I have also begun a new project for Castalia House called MOTHS AND COBWEBS, a juvenile, which I will describe in a later post.)
The novel is called IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY.
The story idea came to me during the month of December in 2003, just a few days after my rather dramatic conversion from total Christ-hating atheism to total fidelity. I was recovering from major surgery, and still had one foot, so to speak, in the spirit world.
This story idea came to me in one moment, complete, perfect, in immense detail. I dragged myself out of bed to spend one afternoon writing the outline down in one go from start to finish.
Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, and nothing since.
I often speak of writing as if I am taking dictation from the muse. Usually I am exaggerating a little, or being a little modest. Here I am not. It is as if some other spirit than mine contrived this story, and all I have done is write it down.
The thing was eerie. There are certain ideas and themes in it which are quite a bit like other things I have written. An amnesiac hero trying to discover who he really is, for example, appears in nearly everything I write.
I can also see where the basic ideas come from: that there is a room in a house where whenever the protagonist enters, he remembers he is in love with a woman who also loves him, but only inside that chamber, and nowhere else. The conceit is taken from the deservedly obscure novel A HAUNTED WOMAN by David Lindsay. I say it is deserved obscure because Mr Lindsay did not exercise his full range of his powerful imagination here, and did not explore the several odd but logical ramifications of the idea.
But there are other themes here utterly unlike my usual fare, and other ideas I know not whence they came.
The only element I added was the setting. Originally, I meant it to be set in Oxford, England, at Magdalen College, but I since discovered a small channel island called Sercq or Sark, called a Dark Sky island, and, until 2008, the last still-functioning feudal fief in Europe.
The small and beautiful manor house of the Lord of the island, Le Seigneurie, I had to make into something huge and haunted as Gormenghast, and I add a frankly impossible old growth forest which could not fit on the tiny real island; but aside from these indignities of poetic license, the strangest details in the story are the ones taken from life, and these are the least likely to be believed. I did not make up that Sark is a Dark Sky island, once invaded by a Nuclear Scientist, nor that the language spoken there has never been written down.
The overall vision encompassed in the story is strange, and I am not sure if it counts as science fiction or magical realism or mainstream or what it is. Not only is the narrator unreliable, reality is unreliable.
Part of it is a love story, part of it is a story of treason and revenge, part of it is hallucinatory, and part, the best part, is a metaphysical thriller after the fashion of Charles Williams, where the mystery is not who murdered whom, but what is ultimate reality.
Let me favor you, dear reader, with the opening scene:
Read the remainder of this entry »