After the Event: first page of a new novel

Photograph by Justice Amoh on Unsplash

INTRODUCTION

All human beings are ultimately alone; but some are more alone than others.

Was that what saved me? The tendency to distance myself from others and figure things out for myself: is that why I was Enlightened so painlessly, when millions perished or suffered torment in futile resistance?

Or was it what Jenny used to call my Mr Spock tendency, that excessive rationality and lack of emotion, which put logic ahead of feeling?

I like to think it was neither. I tell myself that it was because the desire to connect, which is such a driver in all of us, was so desperately strong in me that it made me open to the virus, in a way that I never could be to other people.

The irony of that still makes me smile. The idea that the inner conflict between my desire to connect and my inability to do so might actually have given the virus a boost, fills me with a sort of joyous vindication, like watching England beat a better team in the World Cup. 

It’s as if I jumped clean off the autism spectrum and landed as the best-adjusted person on the planet.

Of course, my joy is qualified by the knowledge that there are only a third as many people on the planet now as there were before I made the jump. Evolution can be cruel; and Enlightenment came at a cost.

They had to go, though. There was no other way. We can see that clearly now.

I realise that I need to revise my opening statement.

All human beings were ultimately alone; but now we’re all connected. 

Yes, that’s better. It’s all so much better now.

This is the story of how it came to be.

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The above text is the draft intro to a Science Fiction novel with the working title, After the Event. I’ve spent several months trying out different styles and approaches and I think this works best: but I’d be grateful for feedback. Some background to the book can be found in my earlier posts in the Sci-Fi category, such as Before the Event; Humanity Version 2; Upgrade Yourself; and Why We Love Zombies.

New Beginnings

I have been retired for all of 36 hours now and already I know it’s going to be great. Who would have thought that there were so many hours in a day and so many things with which to fill them?

Not even me, despite the fact that I have retired several times before, at least in the sense of leaving well-paid jobs in order to focus on writing. But this time it’s permanent.

That makes a big difference, which I hadn’t fully understood until I woke up on Sunday morning and realised there are now no boundaries of time or other commitments to constrain what I do. So often I’ve put off the things I really want to do because I couldn’t complete them before my attention was demanded elsewhere. That was true, above all, when it came to writing.

Some people manage to combine work, family, other interests and writing but I don’t know how they do it. I decided several years ago that the best I could manage was 2.5 out of 4: and that writing, like family, should be all or nothing. So it is only now, ten years after returning from Australia to work for the European Space Agency, that I can truly return to writing.

I haven’t felt this excited in years.

Clearing my office of the detritus of an old job and various pastimes took barely half a day: and I felt ruthless enjoyment in doing it. A clear desk, a new phone, summer holidays over and a calendar purged of undesirable commitments: the sense of freedom and fresh starts is positively dizzying.

I’ve had a plan for some time now, as to where to start. First comes the proper promotion of Searching for Satu, which I couldn’t devote enough time to back in January when she was republished. That also involves some improvement of my online presence. After that the big question is, which of my two works in progress should I complete first?

Should I rebuild The Happy Dancer, which has a great beginning, a good ending and a terrible muddle in the middle; or should I complete “Kill the Boss” and its attendant blog, which I had to put on ice a couple of years ago?

I haven’t quite decided yet – but follow this blog if you want to find out. One thing is clear, however. I have discovered a new answer to the old question about whether I am a glass-half-empty-guy or a glass-half-full-guy. And my answer is this: “Fill her up, mate.”

Publication Day

Why is publication day like New Year’s Day? Because after all the anticipation, nothing much happens. Both are arbitrary dates that we try to instil with a significance that they don’t really have. We throw parties to celebrate them precisely because there would otherwise be nothing to distinguish them from the days on either side.

Except, of course, that publication day does provide us with something tangible to show. Granted, many of the sales are now virtual sales of eBooks; and online bookshops like Amazon enable pre-orders; but still, after long gestation the author’s baby has finally emerged into the world. Pregnancy is a good analogy for the long drawn out effort to create a book, so perhaps publication day can best be thought of as childbirth without the pain.

This time around I decided to dispense with the book launch party (or rather, to merge it into an Australia Day party, when everyone has got over the post-Christmas blues and the self-flagellation of “Dry January” and is gagging for some fun). Between then and now I have three weeks to grapple with one of the two great disadvantages of being born British: an inhibition when it comes to self-promotion. So, excuse me while I skip between three leading manifestations of the Anglo-Saxon psyche: the Brit, the American and the Aussie. I think I just might enjoy this..

In keeping with my new American persona, if you have trouble finding the paperback version of Searching for Satu on Amazon and can only see the eBook, just click on the author link to Alan Brunstrom that is shown under the eBook title. It will take you to a page where you can find the paperback and place an order. Just saying.

The Last Mile…

It’s always exciting to receive the first proofs of your new book: and I’ve just received them for the paperback version of Searching for Satu. She has been out of print for 18 years, so this is pretty special. I actually have two versions sitting on my desk: one from Amazon and the other from IngramSpark. The production characteristics are slightly different, in ways that only interest the author; but I’m very happy with both of them.

I particularly like the cover, designed by Jessica Bell of IPA, which manages to capture the spirit of the book and to provide a link to the original Citron Press edition, in the form of the hands reaching for each other across a lake.

Satu is also available as an eBook with both IngramSpark and Kindle Direct Publishing. Pre-orders are already open, in advance of the official publication day on 5th January. Between then and now my I’m focused on a promotional campaign that involves a lot of things that I haven’t done for years. It’s lovely to get back into the groove of being a published author; and although this will be a soft launch for a 2nd edition, rather than a big bang for a first publication, it’s great preparation for the next two books that I aim to publish by 2020.

Watch this space!