Publication day

So, the day finally came. After twenty five years of being distracted from book writing by the animation industry, my first novel ‘The Multiverse of Max Tovey’ is actually released. It’s a strange feeling. Obviously every novelist dreams of being sat in a book shop at this point with eager purchasers queuing around the block, but not all of us can be JKR. Well, only one, obviously. But given that it only came out today, it’s managed to reach number two in the Young Adult Time Travel chart on Amazon, which of course is very exciting. OK, it’s not a huge category, but there are a good few hundred in it, so number two will do very nicely thank you. It’s only the first day – the real hard work has only just begun, for myself and my publisher.

Friends and family on Facebook and Twitter have been fantastic in helping to spread the word, and the wonderful Alex Marwood was kind enough not only to give me a quote for the front of the book, but also to recommend it on Twitter. The trick now is to keep the momentum going, and expand it to outside the immediate F&F circle. We don’t have expensive publicists, or even a track record, just the willingness to work social media for all it’s worth, in the hope that the word of mouth starts.

The reviewers and bloggers so far have been very kind – my favourite quote so far is from Author and Blogger Sean P Carlin:

“The fictional universe—the multiverse—of Max Tovey may be more challenging than your average YA offering, with its esoteric regional folklore and convoluted internal mythology, but the purposefully fractured linearity of this particular hero’s journey may very well resonate with a “postnarrative” generation born into a hyperlinked reality in which time isn’t so much a thing that moves forward but rather branches outward, rendering us all a bit whiplashed by the digital multiverse of Facebook, Instagram, text messages, and e-mails that yanks us to and fro without warning or transition, and leaves us longing to have the power, like Max himself, to exercise some small measure of control over the technological maelstrom.  In times like these, that’s the sort of thing that seems like a superhuman feat indeed.”

I’ve never been called ‘post-narrative’ before, and had to think about it for a while before I realised what Sean meant. What he’s talking about is the fact that the plot doesn’t progress in a straight line, but instead jumps backwards, forwards and sideways as Max’s journey has a butterfly effect on Time. I’ve said this before elsewhere, but it’s worth repeating. Imagine having a dream/nightmare, then waking up momentarily before going back to it, only to find things have changed. That’s how I wanted the reader to feel, because that’s how Max feels. Turns out that’s ‘post-narrative’. Hey, I can handle being compared to Pulp Fiction!

4 thoughts on “Publication day

  1. Wishing you only the best of luck with this, Alastair!

    Postnarrativity is a complex notion first identified by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff in his book Present Shock, but the essence of it is that our conventional sense of continuity — of linear narrativity — got disrupted by seismic events like 9/11 and the Information Age, and the Aristotelian story arc (a.k.a. Joseph Campbell’s “hero’s journey”), with its very linear, closed-ended approach to storytelling, no longer sufficiently spoke to the unprecedented events and phenomena that were popping up all around us, nor did it offer an adequate outlet to make sense of them. So, what’s unconsciously arisen in place of the classical “monomyth” is a “postnarrative” approach to storytelling in which there are either no stakes or consequences (The Simpsons), the viewing experience itself supplants linear plot progression as the entire point of the program (Beavis and Butt-head), or the movement’s current permutation: sprawling ensemble series like Lost, Game of Thrones, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which, per Rushkoff, “are less about what will happen next, or how the story will end, than about figuring out what is actually going on right now — and enjoying the world of the fiction, itself.” Multiverse, with its fractured linearity (like Pulp Fiction and Memento) is very much in the postnarrative vein — it speaks to the experiences and anxieties of a generation born into a world in which our sense of narrativity had already collapsed. I think it is important for authors to consciously recognize and understand the different forms and functions of the two story models, and to condition their audience/readership accordingly, else suffer the backlash that befell Damon Lindelof (Lost) and George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones).

    For those interested in further education on the subject, I refer you to Present Shock, or my dissertation on the collapse of narrative (which Rushkoff himself endorsed), or even the comments section of this recent examination of Lost, in which Law & Order (traditional narrative) is compared with CSI (postnarrative).


  2. Thanks Sean. Yes, I’d read your post on the whole post-narrative thing, which I loved. I am flattered to be considered among such company. I can’t say I didn’t intentionally write a fractured plot, because I wanted to get across that kind of disorientation to the reader. However, I didn’t know it had a name, i.e. post-narrative, and may the Gods bless you for making me look intellectual! As for ‘Lost’, I remember commenting after the first few episodes to my novelist friend Serena Mackesy (aka Alex Marwood) that it was obviously going to be a Pincher Martin plot, i.e. at the end, we would discover that it had all been a fabrication of Shephard’s dying mind. She yelled at me for the very thought at the time. I was proved right, of course, and she yelled at me for that too! It’s a device that’s been used a few times, notably in Jacob’s Ladder. I remember seeing that at the cinema and actually shouting out half way through, “it’s bloody Pincher Martin!” But anyhow, thanks again Sean, seriously.

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