Sacrificial Virgin German Shepherd Goats.
Sometimes you have to lie and sometimes telling a lie is the right thing to do. They used to be called “white” lies which denoted a sense of being less than a black lie which is self-justification and telling yourself that the lying is okay. But honesty is the better part of valour so they say. I haven’t been online for a while due to the sheer amount of work I’ve had to do since that crazy trip to London. The whole adventure was nuts but it paid off and The Undead now has a literary agent!!! You may have seen the blog entry I did on Culture – which was a piece written for Cultured Voices website. During that rant about culture and the perception of culture, I explained that I went to London to meet three literary agents who had each expressed an interest in signing me for The Undead. The day was a hard one and all three agents were fantastic people who each took time and effort to talk me through the dangers and pitfalls of the traditional publishing world. Joanna Swainson from Hardman & Swainson stood out by a mile with an energy and understanding that really appealed to me and I had a gut feeling that she is the one to champion the series. We signed papers and talked about serious things – or rather she talked about serious things while I rattled on about inane bollocks like I normally do, but then she was strong enough to put me in my place and tell me what to do and more importantly, not what to do. Sooooooo, I signed up and then set about with a whole load of new work to do. I didn’t realise that publishers can be quite strict about word counts per book, and The Undead word counts are all over the bloody place. Day One is about 22000 whereas Day Fourteen was 200,000 words. Why would a publisher take the risk with a new author presenting a whole bucket full of material with his opening book being a short story and the latter ones being bloody great big tomes? I thought that we could present them in the compilation formats. The First Seven Days, The Second Week and then The Third Week and so on. But The First Seven Days sits at about five billion words and the The Second Week word count has to be presented in binary code because the word count is so high. They wouldn’t take that risk. The costs of printing, packaging, shipping all have to be taken into account along with the costs of marketing, advertising and of course the work required by their copy editors, proof-readers and the list goes on. Now Stephen King or Lee Child could work into a publishers with a shopping list and have their arms ripped off, likewise they could present a TWENTY QUADZILLION word count book and still be showered in rose petals while virgin goats were sacrificed over altars surrounded by weird black candles that were made by a special company who makes weird black candles and they also supply virginal sacrificial goats. I like goats. When I was young I used to walk through this country lane into the local village but the lane went through this little paddock where a psychotic goat spent his days happily chewing the cud. He was mental and would charge on sight. But I ain’t Stephen King and I ain’t Lee Child. But then I like writing long, I love writing long. I love vast epic sprawling books that suck you in to slap you about and fuck up your perception of the world and your place within it. I love getting so immersed in a yarn that it takes a few minutes to adjust to reality when you put the book down. I want to imagine I’m part of that story, group, scene…what would I do? How would I react? I want to watch the character grow and develop and cheer when he does the right thing but find myself holding my breath when he or she makes the wrong decision. JK Rowling writes long. King writes long. George RR Martin writes long…Cornwell writes long… But I ain’t them and they didn’t start off writing long. They wrote to the specified word counts, became established and only then did they get showered in virgin goats while rose petals were sacrificed by the gnarly black candles. So The Undead series has had to be re-worked. Presenting it in the “Days” format would not work. Instead I have had to present a series of parts with Days One to Four as one book, then Day Five, Six and part of Day Seven as the next part and on it goes. That also meant that if a book was split in the middle of a “Day” then it needed work on the ending and the new beginning. The format, layout, font and just about everything had to be altered and adapted. New prologues had to be written as most series use the first few pages to bring the reader up to speed and remind them of what’s happened so far. I’m not a fan of that as it can be very clumsy. So we went for a good old fashioned “The Story So Far” opening section of each new Part. Then because the Days format was changed, it meant the synopsis covering the whole series had to be changed too. At the same time as doing that – I learnt that publishers also want to see new material that has not been published – so they can see the series has a future and the author is still working. Which in turn meant writing a whole new shiny big chunk for Day Sixteen. Ah but that brings the worst moral dilemma yet. If I write Day Sixteen for the publisher and present it as new unpublished material – then I can’t release it to the readers. I could write and release Day Sixteen but then I’d have to write Day Seventeen as the new unpublished material and that cycle will keep going and going. It was a nasty, gritty, shitty horrible decision to make. Knowing I have made a substantial start to Sixteen and could get it finished quite quickly but knowing I can’t release it yet. I could tell a lie and make shit up. I could say that I’ve been super busy and unable to write Day Sixteen. I could say that a psychotic virgin goat broke into my house and ate it. There was a fire, a flood, a tornado and a volcano all on the same day. There was a mass civil uprising that erupted in my street, riots and tear gas and I had to fend them off by swatting them with my manuscript for Sixteen. I could say I was ill and my arms fell off and are now on ice waiting to be stitched back on. My eyes popped out. I was infected with the zombie virus and placed in quarantine. I overdosed on Cappuccino and had to be sedated from eating a picnic bench. I had amnesia and found myself living in a Brazilian rain forest with a tribe of indigenous people who accepted me as one of their own but then cast me out when I got into a punch-up with their sacrificial virgin goat. Ah but The Undead readers are unique and fiercely loyal so to lie to them would be like…I dunno…kicking the psychotic goat in the nuts when he wasn’t watching. It just wouldn’t be right. There are rules here and mutual respect. The goat chases and head butts and I run off. The readers of The Undead are dedicated and fantastic. I couldn’t kick the goat in the gonads when he wasn’t looking any more than I could lie and still be able to sleep at night. So that’s where we’re at. The work is just about to be finished and will be passed to Joanna so she can check it all and start preparing for approaching publishers. It all takes time which is shit as I have the patience of….wait for it….A CHARGING GOAT mwahahahaha. Sorry. Enough about goats. I might try and buy a farm one day to raise goats. Can you cross breed a German Shepherd with a goat? Imagine that! Whoa…that’s an animal that could rule the world. A German Shepherd Goat. That’d be a match for a honey badger. Here’s an interesting fact – Crows can count to six. Let’s share interesting facts, one per message and I’ll draw one for some Undead goodies as a prize. Take care RR Haywood