‘By Hook Or By Crook…’

Charlie Fuller is a book that is overdue by a long way. My original intention was to have it finished by October 2013 and when I started writing it I had only published one book. So many words and characters had yet to be written and created and since then ideas have come up out of the ground, flowered and are now roaming the world. Charlie wasn’t out by October 2013. He wasn’t even finished. So many other things got in the way. It got pushed aside, neglected for weeks at a time and forced to make room for more urgent matters. It is still far from being finished, even though it has already surpassed the average novel length.

For those of you who don’t know, Charlie started out as an attempt to rewrite my earliest attempt at a proper novel, Under The Fuhrer’s Control. That book, written in my early teens, was no literary masterpiece. The plot was paper thin and ridiculous, all the main characters were dead by half way through and the less said about that Wales sized island off the coast of France (unnoticed by the entire world) the better. BUT… The book was the starting point for almost everything (fictional) that I write today. A huge chunk of my major characters and central structures stem from somewhere or something in that book. The book started an avalanche. It became one of the zygotes for my literary world, the Morfaverse, forming the principal core from which all else now feeds off, even the stuff that came from elsewhere in my head.

Older and wiser and a far more competent writer than I had been, I decided that the book needed to be rewritten. It needed plot and structure and most of all a central character. My mind turned to one man who, in the middle of that first book, is discovered as a prisoner of the bad guys (A bunch of British Communists pretending to be German Nazi’s… Don’t ask!) His name, as you can properly guess, was Charlie Fuller. He had featured in my second novel attempt (more competent, but still awful) of which the first half was a prequel to Fuhrers, and I would use some of the stuff from that book as well. I would centre my rewrite around Charlie and it would be both the story of how he came to be imprisoned and of his escape.

That was the plan and I started by introducing Charlie and expanding on his childhood. Unbeknownst to myself at the time by doing this I would create something entirely different. The story of his childhood in the Northamptonshire market town of Towcester became too good an opportunity to merely skim over. In going into detail I could work on important themes and elements and characters that would show up later on after his escape. I could use it to add a structure to the original narrative. I added in new characters; the mother who rejected him, his beloved grandfather and the cruel headmaster, Mr Carrion. Characters from the early books were going to turn up too- Monty Morfasson, who would become Charlie’s mentor, whilst his future lover, Violet (with her surname changed from Benson to Brushwood) became his childhood sweetheart.

But it was one new character who would change everything, Charlie’s best friend Jeremy Compton. As I wrote the book started to become the story of their friendship, how it formed and how it was torn up by Jeremy’s involvement with a fascistic cult, SHEMBLE. And it would be Charlie’s attempts to save Jeremy that would lead to his imprisonment. He would go to Civil War era Spain, to Santiago de Compostela, and there the two would have it out with each other. In the process Charlie would be captured by SHEMBLE. Only this time there had to be no escape. This was where the book would now end, with Charlie imprisoned for the rest of his days. In short, it became a Dickens style biographical novel, one in the same vein as David Copperfield or Nicholas Nickleby and one which (at least in the first part of the book) has overtones of the English pastoral, the likes of Uncle Silas or H.E Bates’ other famous work, The Darling Buds of May or perhaps Cider with Rosie. ‘Acid with Rosie’ would be a good alternative title for the book, I think.

So what is going on with it? Well… It is going to be finished this year. I want to make sure of that. As to when it will be out and in what form, I don’t know. This is all to do with another book of mine, Max & Anna. I was really hoping that I could get that book published properly but it is looking like absolutely nobody is willing to publish it. The words that keep coming back are ‘we aren’t confident enough about it’ and one person said they ‘weren’t sure how (they) could sell it.’ This suggests that it’s all to do with money. Nobody will publish it because it they think it isn’t going to be profitable enough for them. There could also be it’s ‘uniqueness’ factor counting against it. Normally I can compare my work to something else in some way but not this time. Max & Anna is like no other book that I can think of. It’s difference to everything else could be putting people off. So it looks (unless anybody decides they want it in the next month or so) that Max & Anna will be another eBook only title for the foreseeable future. This is a shame because I think this might just be my best book yet. It could be the one that people still read in two, three hundred years time- My Tess of The D’ubervilles or my Middlemarch or any other piece of ‘classic’ literature you care to name. And this is also where the trouble lies because if I’m going to get my name in print I will need another book to run the gauntlet of the publishing industry.

What other book do I have? Of my already released books no publisher or agent will touch Dark Legend with a barge pole… Not least because it is gratuitously sci-fi. D.S Proctor is too short for them. The Rebels has ran before with no success. With my future books, Liverinth could present any number of reasons for rejection ranging from the too fantastical to the too artsy or too unusual. All I need to do is give them the basic plot (the streets of Liverpool suddenly all move around, turning the city into one giant maze) and every agent would run a mile. Eboracvm is a possibility, though that is a long way from being finished and not something I’m expressly keen to publish before finishing Dark Legend. That leaves… Charlie. Of the three possible books I could next have run the guantlet Charlie has the best chance of making it, closely followed by Eboracvm. My main worry with it is that it is too long and perhaps written in too old a fashion for most publishers or agents but that is worth a risk.

But to run it needs finishing, and finishing by the end of the year. There’s still a way to go of course, I can’t just rush it. Rush it and it will be bad. But I know how much work I need to do and it is possible to finish by the end of the year. And just because Max & Anna hasn’t made it through the gauntlet doesn’t mean I’m giving up. By hook or by crook, I’ll get you a proper book!

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