There comes a time in the life of every child, literal or otherwise, when a parent has to push said child out of the nest. When, after we've done all we can to prepare them; after we've suffered through sleepless nights, arguments, tears, joys, and breakthroughs, the moment arrives and we must launch our progeny into the world, with much fanfare and quiet relief, once and for all. That time has come for my third novel, Shroudeaters.
Shroudeaters has been a long time reaching the world. It started, many years ago, as a form of play. I wanted to flip some of the gene conventions for vampire fiction, invert them, or ignore them all together. I also wanted to pay a kind of homage to the great vampire fiction writers: Stoker, Rice, King, McCammon, and Lindqvist, among many others. More than this, I wanted to investigate the notion of immortality, and our obsessed with it. This obsession is evident not only in our fiction, but also in our religions, and in our science: we don’t want to die, and we’ll put our faith in just about anything to try and ensure that doesn’t happen.
Vampires, I think, encapsulate our desire to elude death, but they are also a tacit admission of our understanding that there is a price to pay for such a feat of magic, were it possible. And what is that price? Time. Even if we limit 'immortality' to the predictions of some scientists, and say we could have a thousand years of life, what would this actually mean as a lived experience? Would it be the ‘paradise’ we’re promised, or would it be something else? This, then, leads to the question: if we could be immortal, would we really want to be?
This is the guiding question woven through Shroudeaters.
In some ways, it’s lucky the work has this guiding thread because it has changed and morphed over the years. In its first rendition, it was a 3rd person narrative, set mostly here in Oz. 35,000 words in, and a trip to Paris and Edinburgh later, I ditched the whole approach and started again. That was a tough decision, but it was the right one. The voices that came through for the second version were far stronger, and the structure – I hope! – was more interesting.
Would I have found these voices and the structure if I hadn’t gone to Paris and Edinburgh? Maybe, but when I consider Juliana, in particular, I’m not sure I would’ve heard her in the same way. I think I needed to go to Paris to understand that city’s voice; its sass and seductiveness. Certainly, I needed to be in these places – Paris and Edinburgh – to capture their atmosphere and the timbre of everyday life. Fortunately, I received a grant from my regional council (the RADF) that allowed me to go and immerse myself in these glorious cities.
The draft that came after this trip was much closer to what I wanted the novel to be, and at almost 60,000 words, I thought I was done; until I gave the manuscript to my dear friend, Nike Sulway, for feedback. Nike is one of the most intelligent, generous, and humble people I know, and as a writer and editor, she has a sharp eye, and an even sharper creative intellect. When I received her report on Shroudeaters, my heart sank; it was clear I wasn’t anywhere near finished with the work. Back to the laptop! 30,000 words – and a dozen more edits – later, and here we are.
Well, as I said, almost.
As you can see above, Shroudeaters has a fabulous cover (thanks to Dane at Ebook Launch), and I’ve finished doing one final proofread and edit – more about that in a future blog – but, before I can send the manuscript off for formatting, I have to wait for copyright permissions to come in (I'll have something to say about that too). That should happen sometime in the next seven weeks. Luckily, us writer folks are blessed with the patience of Job... or Sisyphus!
In the meantime, I’ll post up some other stuff around the novel over the coming weeks, and of course, make the announcement when the novel finally ‘hits the stores’. In the meantime, if you’ve got anything you want to ask or share about vampires, or vampire novels, or writing in general, please feel free to leave a message.
Until next time,