Monday, November 26, 2007
Surprise? About what?
Well, The Longevity Thesis has been out for round about two months now, some people have read it and have been giving me their thoughts and impressions of the novel.
Some people have hit the nail on the head.
Some people have left me startled. These people felt disappointed that the story did not meet their expectations of what they thought it would be about. Thus, I feel I must blog.
The Longevity Thesis is NOT (or ever intended to be):
1) A story about how youngish women have to struggle against their families to find a good marriage.
2) About a Fountain of Youth.
3) About my former Ph.D. supervisors.
4) A story with a single "linear" plot and no subplots.
7) Not accurately described on the back cover.
8) Wallowing in endless depression with no hope of redemption.
9) A Christmas story.
The Longevity Thesis IS:
1) Intended to examine the ability of the characters to accurately perceive themselves, the other characters, and the situations they find themselves in.
2) Supposed to mess with the notion of first impressions and the natural inclination to pass judgment after a cursory glance.
3) An illustration of the debilitating effect of low self-esteem (ties in to the examination of accurate perception of self).
4) An exploration the possibility of escaping fear through forced growth.
5) A presentation of the notion that love is weird, and can come to a person in a myriad of unexpected ways.
6) Intended to loosely parallel fragments of Dante's Inferno.
7) Intended to loosely embrace selected Buddhist concepts.
8) An exploration how far a character can go in the direction of using evil to fight evil, and still be a good person.
9) A presentation of the notion that controlling people and restricting their freedom is one of the worst forms of cruelty.
10) An examination of how inaccurate perception of self can really mess up a person's life.
I'll comment further on the plot and how it was charted in a later post.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
It was a low key afternoon, but I'd like to send out my heartfelt thanks to my buddies for stopping by or just saying hello in passing: Maggie, Laura, Vivian, Tessa, Chris, Zoe, Tom, Phil, Beichen, Kate, and Melanie.
Also, thank you to Coles and their staff for hosting me, and to all the friendly people who stopped to chat, whether or not they decided to pick up the book. (It's much nicer to at least chat rather than just sitting there.)
Well, this was the second last stop for the fall season. Next I'll be doing a short reading at the EDGE/Dragon Moon Press Hot Off the Presses Party, at the Historic Fire Hall on Memorial Drive. It's at 7:00pm on November 30th. Susan Forest and Randy McCharles will also be reading their works. For those of you interested in attending World Fantasy 2008 in Calgary next year, Randy is one of the organisers, so this would be a good opportunity to get more information.
In other news, EDGE is having a sale on Fall Release titles: 20% off everything published in late 2007. And keep an eye out for a Chinese language news article to be published in The Epoch Times! There will be news about the book, book tour as well as an interview with Justyn Perry.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Lulu Enterprises, Inc. 2005
This is an important book. Emotionally, it's not an easy read, as it stirs up several complicated emotions at once: fear of violence, fear of being unacceptable, fear of losing something one has yet to even grasp, fear of being alone after shedding an uncomfortable, yet familiar existence. All this, served up with a side order of harsh reality and a dash of denial.
As I read this book, the details of the everyday life of an ordinary woman had the effect of placing me firmly in the main character's shoes. Tara Richards is inherently known by every woman who has gotten up in the morning and looked in the mirror. Her unremarkable life was contrasted with the abrasive pain of having maybe lost a close friend in the worst way possible, and the confounding mental haze that comes with not actually knowing. It's a strange experience, reaching for normalcy, trying to deal with the mundane, while something so shocking has happened that it pokes holes in a person's integrity, letting so many emotions slowly bleed out, perhaps leading to actions a person might not normally have undertook, and ultimately to recoiling from the inevitable slap of reality when the consequences of those actions comes.
As I read about Tara Richards' struggle to find her missing, and possibly murdered best friend, I wondered if enough had been done. Or if Tara had hesitated for too long. Or if Tara had failed because she had tried to promote fairness at the expense of pure instinct. Or if she had been selfish, allowing herself to be distracted from her crusade by things that might have been the manifestations of denial. Yet after reading the novel, it's fully apparent that without being psychic, there was not much else she could have done.
In the epilogue, the author makes a few statements that helped my mind settle after I had finished the story:
"This book is not a mystery; it is not a whodunit. It is a story about what people experience when they go through the shock of losing someone, and the helplessness, rage, and fear that they feel knowing that they may never see that person again . . . How do we maintain the presumption of innocence without putting ourselves in danger by bonding with a killer?"
The book is dedicated to Louise Ellis, murdered April 1995.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
J.K.'s novel Dominion, was released in 2005. The protagonist of this story is a woman called Gilna, who completes her training as a perfumer just before her village is ravaged first by plague, then by an unstoppable invading army bent on conquering everything in their path. Gilna's skills allow her to administer medicines through scents, and alternately, deadly poisons. As a healer and survivor of the plague, Gilna is deemed useful by the invading Kurathk, and is kept as a servant to the tribal leaders. Her need to survive within her captive state battles with her guilt over assisting her peoples' sworn enemy, until she determines a way to use the power and influence she garners from her new position to manipulate the Kurathk. Although she is terrified of the dreamworld, help comes from that ethereal dimension, as Gilna plots to destroy the Kurathk through their growing dependency on her.Although many people had told us they'd seen the article about the event published in the Nov 2nd edition of Strathcona County This Week, there was a small turnout. The atmosphere was pleasantly relaxed, where the audience munched on home baked goodies (and my store bought cookies) along with some tea or coffee. Some of my friends from elementary and high school turned out, as well as some of J.K.'s writer group buddies. I finally got J.K. to sign my copy of her book, and had the chance to sign a few of my own. That was the nice thing about this set up; everyone who showed up had a genuine interest in the books.
Friday, November 9, 2007
The WebMaster for my site decided to entertain me with this photo montage. I got a kick out of it:
Saturday, November 3, 2007
"This is apparently a first novel and it suffers from some of the usual awkwardness associated with first novels, but the premise and background are actually rather interesting. It's a very atypical fantasy world that almost but doesn't quite come to life, set in a vast underground civilization. The protagonist, Antronos, was born on the surface, which makes him a kind of second class citizen. He perseveres, graduates from college, and begins to work with a man who is studying ways to prolong human life. The problem is that his new boss is making use of a corrupt nobleman with psychic powers to steal the life force from others. Antronos gets caught, not exactly in the middle, and it's not clear whether he will become an involuntary life donor, a co-conspirator, or the man who saves the nobleman from being exploited by the evil scientist. The narrative portions are generally well written, but the dialogue is often quite artificial and awkward. I'd call this one an interesting misfire, and hope that the author develops the writing skill to match her obviously creative imagination. 10/27/07"
I kinda like the term "interesting misfire". That's very unique.
Anyway, I'm reposting this because I'm curious about reader feedback for this sort of review. What's your reaction to it? Would it make you look for other reviews or turn you off the book altogether?
(Thanks in advance to anyone who cares to comment!)
I'm not too discouraged by this one review, because some very nice people have emailed me directly with the following comments:
"I think your book is very interesting. I think the desert is almost like consciousness in that you don't know what will arise. I was intrigued."
" . . . the opening scene with the dust storm and the rescue of Antronos by his mother has me intrigued . . . if I enjoy this book as much as the opening scene, I will be looking for anything else you write."
"I had to take a moment to let you know that I am 60 pages into the PDF version of your novel and I really am enjoying it! I love fantas[ies] that do not rely on the 'standard' themes, characters and settings and your work is definitely forging it's own original path."
So what does it all mean? Am I headed towards a niche audience? I know it's unrealistic to expect universal appeal, but every little piece of feedback does get filed away as I go along. So thank you to everyone who has taken time to write something, good or bad, and know that you are not wasting your time, because all of it is being taken into consideration.