We now come to the novel I am most proud of producing. At more than 170,000 words it is by far the longest thing I have ever written. And it was designed to be a sort of e-book. Every chapter is a new day, and it takes course over a year, so I even linked each chapter to a calendar.
Year Of Change is about a group of therianthropes (were-beings), led by a were-bear, who live and hunt in Adelaide in anonymity – where they are joined by two new werewolves who have to learn the new rules – until they are confronted by a nasty were-shark and a were-bat who acts a lot like a vampire, while one of their number is set to become the leader of all her were-people. There’s lots of death and dismemberment and gore, but also some nice characterisation. There’s anything up to six different stories going on at any one time, but they all end up intertwining until the final denouement. Oh, and there’s a bunyip as well.
It was originally started as 365 words on each day for 365 days (133,000 words). But I couldn’t stick to my self-imposed word count (especially at the end), and so I just let it explode as it was. It has been through two rewrites. The first cut it down from more than 220,000 words, the second saw more than a hundred typos corrected. Having said that, having read it for this, there are still so many more to fix. (I am awful at self-editing.)
Still, all in all, I am proud of this work and really happy with the way I set it up and let the story happen, and yet it has been rejected 5 times, once particularly nastily (though her whole criticism seemed to be that since those ridiculous Meyer books, werewolves should be great big cuddly teddy bears and vampires should sparkle and be compassionate, emotional lovers). But I have now fixed a heap more typos and have sent it out yet again…
JANUARY 7, 2009
Dan sat on the edge of his boat – the ‘Herring Do’ – with the rod trailing in the water. With the engine off, the craft simply bobbed up and down in the choppy seas, the rocking motion sending Dan into a gentle sleep…
The tug on the line was sharp, sudden and strong.
Dan awoke with a jerk and fumbled about comically until he managed to get a firm grip on the heavy rod. He tried reeling his catch in, but to no avail; it was too strong. He smiled like a child in a toy store. This could be the one! The one he could mount and put on the wall of his office! “Yes!” he hissed under his breath as he let a little line out, leaning forward. He then moved his entire body backwards as he reeled in the catch. He leant again, this time winding as he moved, then used his entire body weight to pull backwards. “Come on, you beauty,” he hissed as he repeated the movements a few more times.
Then the line went slack.
“Shit!” Dan muttered as he started to reel the line back in. It had probably snapped, leaving him with nothing more than the memory of five minutes of adrenaline rush.
The line jerked again.
He looked at it curiously then started to reel again. Again it met resistance. And then it went loose once more. He decided to continue to reel it on in. The fish on the other end must have been running in towards the vessel, not away from it.
The line went taut again, and then he noticed that the angle was changing.
The animal had gone down deep, and was now virtually directly beneath the boat…
The line became loose. So loose that it started to coil on the surface of the water.
In fifteen years of fishing out here, off the coast south of Adelaide, Dan had never seen this before. He bent over the edge of the craft, looking down. The sea was too choppy for him to actually see anything.
The flash of grey as something caught the light seemed to be growing… and that meant whatever it was was moving towards him. He let go of the rod and shuffled backwards, falling to his rear, but not ceasing his movement.
The water exploded in front of him and even in the dull light of late evening there was no mistaking the figure that breached the surface of the water.
It was a shark.
The largest he had ever seen.
It crashed back into the water, and then suddenly surfaced again, and this time Dan could see it in its entirety.
The third time it whipped its tail in the air, spun, and came crashing down onto the deck in front of him. The stern of the boat dropped alarmingly close to the water. But it did not thrash about. Instead the head turned slowly and gazed at him. And it rose up.
He barely had time to yelp as huge jaws closed in on his head. In a spray of bright red and the cracking of bones, Dan was gone.
Rejection total: 101 + 5 = 106
Also received notification of another rejection for Some Other People during the week, so
Rejection total: 106 + 1 = 107