Monday, 8 June 2015

My book | A Last Fire

'It's a trundling river, the Thames. If it's cousins on other continents are forged by giant snakes ploughing through the grass with purpose, then the Thames is a trail laid by a giant snail, lazily searching for food' 

For those who don't know, I wrote a book. It was written last year, mainly on journeys too and from work, sat on the tube, frantically typing on my phone. I glued it altogether over a few late nights and then spent almost a year having it edited by friends and family, as well as commissioning a cover - the creation of which I am truly grateful for (as it looks flipping amazing!).

People who haven't read the book always ask me what it's about, naturally. The description on Amazon fails to convey what I think the book is about - I think Barrie Thomson's review is far better.

On the surface, it's a dystopian / post-apocalyptic tale of soldiers and zombies. I imagine a lot of people are truly turned-off by that.

In my mind, that's really not what it's about.

Like the work on which it's based - Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness - this book is about one man's reflections on both the situation in which he finds himself and the world in general. In some ways, the man is a passenger. He does make decisions and does impact the story, yet at times he talks as if he is simply floating along through his own existence, watching as the world (literally) drifts by.

I say in 'my mind', as that's the true beauty of any book. People can ask what it's about, but really it's for them to make their own decision upon reading it. Some will see no meaning to the story and possibly no point to it at all. Others will see the story in a certain light, from a certain angle.

I'll never tell anyone what the true 'meaning' of the story is or if one even exists at all. Even as the author, it's not my place to say.

As the book itself says:

'No man can old all of the answers, no matter how high his tower...a man who believes himself to hold all the cards and be true above all others is both false and a fool.'

That said, I understand the fundamental hypocrisy in believing as truth that no man holds all the answers - for that, in itself, is claiming that one man understands the truth.

Hypocrisy is rife in this book. It's one man's narration; one man's view of events and the world. The narrator claims others to be incompetent, useless, coward, and more - yet he himself admits to all of those weaknesses and suffers from many more. The text is in places jarring, contradictory, and the narrator often loses his train of thought, running off to philosophise on other semi-related matters.

This style of writing, I'd like to think, emulates that of a Heart of Darkness. It's also an attempt to genuinely imitate a true narration. People don't deliver every detail in their stories. They don't present objective facts. They do make mistakes. Most stories told aloud are a ramble through a beginning, a middle, and possibly an end. They're told through a single set of eyes - a filter on the world, clouded with preconceived ideas and judgements.

Whether the story reflects any truth in my own life, I'll also leave to other people. Some of the comments made by the narrator are ones I've made myself in other situations; others are most definitely not. As with Marlow, the character in a Heart of Darkness, I can empathise and identify with some of the situations (and characters) he deals with. I've never taken a trip along the Congo in the 19th Century and I've never taken a boat ride along The Thames through a zombie-infested wasteland.

Yet we can all find parts of every story that reflect something of our own lives, especially if we're the one who wrote it. As the book reads towards the end:

'I imagined each of us saw a projection of the old soldier's tale in our own mind; he himself, the fool, General Bryer, the Captain, and every character in between, each of them felt as part of our own flesh, each a component that made us the men we were.'

That then is my book, available to download on Amazon Kindle and the Amazon Kindle App for desktop, tablet, and mobile. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoy the book.

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