When I finished writing my novel FAITH, I experienced what I thought was a strange reaction: I closed the file on it and didn’t want any more to do with it. This isn’t to say I reacted against it. I felt proud of it, and still do, and I reckon I’ve written it as well as I’m able to. It was simply that I felt I’d said everything I wanted to say about those people and that universe, and any more would be mere tinkering. At least, that’s how my agent explained it when I described it to him, and he said it’s not uncommon for authors to have such a feeling. Do any of the other Night Bazaar authors recognise it?
When Lord Chesterfield said that a novel must be exceptionally good to live as long as the average cat, he probably had a life of eleven or twelve years in mind. Our house has always had cats, and most of them have lived that long or more. Our longest-lived cat was Chloe: twenty-seven years. She was a small skinny cat, with lovely tortoiseshell markings, and something of the sinewy build of a Siamese. She simply wasn’t afraid of anything. She’d have faced down a pack of velociraptors if they’d come into our garden (admittedly not a frequent occurrence in the English Home Counties) and she went through life like a sort of feline bag lady, swearing copiously at anything that invaded her space. I’d like to think that my book will be out there in twenty-seven years, conducting itself like Chloe.
I’ve enjoyed doing internet interviews about FAITH. One of the questions was to describe the book in 140 characters or less. The answer I gave was:
“Motiveless, invincible alien ship. Almost-alien human opponent. Moby Dick meets Kafka meets Duel. Irresistible force meets irresistible force.”
I’d love to see someone reading my book on a train, or browsing it in a bookshop. We British tend not to speak to each other unless we’re introduced, but I’d find it hard not to start a conversation.
I’m writing my second novel now; I’m nearly halfway through it. It’s also SF, but very different, and deliberately so. It will be a kind of political thriller, but with strange edges. I’ve set it in the future (about fifty years from now) so I could explore ideas about how politics, economics, technology, culture and religion might develop by then. And that’s why I love the SF genre. Whenever I get an idea for a book, I turn almost automatically to SF as the genre in which to express it. SF gives the freedom to explore and develop ideas. It’s not impossible in other genres, but it’s more possible in SF. At least, that’s how I’ve always felt about the genre, but again, I’d like to ask the other Night Bazaar authors if they feel the same way.
Another question I’ve been asked in interviews is whether I’ve thought of doing a sequel or prequel to FAITH, or at least a book set in the same universe. Again, I’d like to know what the other Night Bazaar authors think about sequels or prequels. Personally I’m not enthusiastic, for the reasons mentioned above.
I think this will be the last of my scheduled Night Bazaar posts. I’ll always remember that my first one was on January 3, the day FAITH was published. I’ve really enjoyed doing this, and getting to know the other Night Bazaar authors, and finding how many things we have in common. I hope to get over to some conventions in future, and perhaps we can meet up and talk about favourite authors, music, and whether the Ultimate Answer really is Forty-Two. Very best wishes for the success of your books.
W.G., once again I’m sorry about what happened to you and I hope you get your home back to normal.