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2018 Best New Talent - Short and Sweet Festival Sydney
2014 Pushcart Prize nominee. (more)
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Ode to Dead Young Friends
A couple of months ago, I made a submission to a major UK publisher with my fifth novel, Ode to Dead Young Friends. I've tried to snare an agent before, mainly in the US with my second and third novels, a Young Adult sci-fi series, but I haven't really tried to get my other novels 'out there.' There are a few reasons for this. Mainly that I've been too occupied in the process of actual writing over the past six-seven years but the truth is that I'm terrible at the business side of writing. I'm a creative. I know. I need to do more.
Anyway, I finally got this one out there and thought I'd talk a little about the novel. I'll keep you up to date on it's progress with the publisher, who are seeking new writers and wanted to see the whole manuscript but are only choosing one submission. Chances are, I'll be rejected as I'm sure they had thousands of entries (it was a type of competition), but it's an opportunity to talk about the book.
It's different than my other novels, as it was not directly targeted at Young Adults (like the first three Novels I wrote). And it was mainly a memoir. I say mainly as I had to change a few things and I'll explain why in a minute but it was mostly fact, at least 80%. Yet because of that, I couldn't call it Non-Fiction either. A tough sell? I don't know. Perhaps its better to be quiet about such things. I wonder how many memoirs are 100% fact. I'd say none. Especially if its Auto-biographical. I never trust biographies anyway. The truth is only a matter of perspective anyway.
Ode to Dead Young Friends, is literally what it says it is. It's based on four friends of mine who all died young.
Avita – A stunning but wild, free spirit.
Andrew – A passionate country boy with fire in his blood.
Rosemary – A meek city girl just coming into her own.
Ryan – A confident young man with a zest for life.
I have changed their names and some situations, to protect the real people involved, but I wanted to honour their memory and my association with these young people, who were all very different. Their only commonality was their youth and that they all knew me. It's respectful, though honest and as a consequence, isn't always pleasant. I found this very difficult to write as I realised that it was impossible to tell their stories without including myself in it. It felt very narcissistic. But I couldn't tell it any other way. Well I suppose I could have dressed it up within the confines of a fictional story, but somehow, I don't think people would have believed it. Some events can only exist in the real world. I did however, end up revealing much more about myself than I had planned. I'm still reluctant about it. Yet, I had to be truthful. At times, I don't come out looking that good. I didn't want it to be some Hallmark / Mills & Boon version of what happened. Youth is a difficult time for most. Youth is painful. And it was painful to write. More than once I ended up in tears. I miss my friends. They were too young to die. It's still hard to talk about. I almost decided to shelve the book and never release it. And it did stay in the drawer for over a year, before I pulled it out and decided to redraft it. I had written the initial draft quite quickly, I think over 2-3 months. But I spent almost a year rewriting it, while I was working on other projects. It's simply written. No reams of eloquent, flowing, wistful Victorian style prose. That's not me. I believe in simplicity.
The Book is divided into Four Distinctive Parts and yet, sometimes the timelines blur as some of these people knew each other. I remain the constant factor throughout. It covers an almost twenty year period, from when I was 17 through to 36.
The theme of the book evolved into a celebration of youth itself. I came to understand that we are all slaves to our age; it defines our thoughts, never more so obvious than when we are young.
I'll let you know what becomes of the submission and perhaps I'll begin shopping it around if it comes to naught. It would be nice to see it in print. If only for them. I'll leave you with this little tag I wrote for the synopsis.
An epic novel dealing with the fragility of life, the bond of friendship,
the jealousy's, the intensity of emotion between friends and lovers, the misunderstanding's, the breakdowns, the violence, the insecurity's, the discovery of sex, the emergence into an adult world and the very essence of humanity, captured in youth.
Coming Next Post,
A New Entry in Greatest Written Films
A Short Story, Ferris-Wheel Frivolity