Do you get that overwhelming feeling when you read great fiction?
Great authors can change your world with a turn of phrase. For the ‘non-writer’ reader it inspires awe; for the ‘writer’ reader it triggers envy. Every writer has a list of works they often dream of having written. Since I was a teenager, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Stand sat atop my list. I have long since made peace with the fact that I shall never be Douglas Adams or Stephen King.
More recently, I came down with bad cases of novel-envy over the likes of Life of Pi and Cloud Atlas. The root of the envy is the fact that, though Martel and Mitchell are using the same words as me, the laws of probability prevent me from writing those books before they do!
It’s a long time since novels were novel. However, with the revolution in self-publishing and the rise of eBooks, there are now so many more stories getting ‘out there’. Granted, not all of their authors got professional editorial help or even came within a mile of a competent proof reader, but the chances are enormous that great works are available at the click of a button. I shall be releasing my own first novel eBook in the coming months. Look out for post updates!
Unpolished diamonds do litter the landscape away from the well-trodden path of traditional publishing. One such gem has gone from being a giveaway on Twitter to being feted by the Man Booker Prize judges. The Kills, by Richard House, is truly novel. In fact, it’s more a media event than a book, with a novel within the novel, as well as supplementary films about the characters and events.
In a recent interview with Litro, House explains the importance of connecting with the reader:
When I was about half way through writing The Kills, I began wondering, what’s the worth of fiction? What does fiction do? I think most writers get to this point where you walk into a bookstore and you see thousands and thousands of books, and you wonder what the worth of that is. Are you just getting more trees chopped down? Then I read Bolano’s novel 2666 and was inspired by how an idea can be extended across such a vast landscape. It seemed to me that that kind of enquiry was entirely worthwhile. As a reader I felt I was being engaged and entertained with a thriller, but also given a space where difficult ethical issues were being discussed. I loved how intelligent that was. I wanted to do that – to do something where a reader could be involved in the stories as thrillers, but also able to connect the pieces.
It is the writer’s job to connect with the reader… and it is the novel’s job to change their world. Let the pandemic of envy continue…