I wrote a book. I put it away and more-or-less forgot about it.
Eventually, I used the book as a calling card when Jonathan Oliver at Solaris invited me to submit a pitch for a novel.
Then, the unthinkable happened. I never did pitch a novel, because Jon liked my calling card so much that he decided to buy it.
That novel is ‘Savant’.
I saw, and posted on my FaceBook page, an article about art and artists pretty recently. It said everything I believe about art. That is, that the best art comes direct from the mind and craft of the artist.
We live in a remarkably interactive age. As soon as we say anything, as soon as we make anything, the World can respond. What matters is how we choose to deal with the response.
When I wrote ‘Savant’, I did so only because I had an idea that I wanted to work through, and writing it seemed like the best option. I didn’t expect other people to respond to the story, and I never expected it to be published.
I’ve been writing to order for a long time. That doesn’t mean I don’t bring my own ideas and agendas to the work, and it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a connection to the work, but it’s a very different experience from making something only for myself.
If the consumer has a say in the artistic process, he will not benefit from the full extent of the artist’s vision.
I like to eat in good restaurants. I am not a chef, nor am I sommelier. So, if I’m asked how I’d like my meat served, I say that I’ll eat it the way the chef prefers to prepare and cook it. A good chef knows his meat much better than I could. If I’m ordering wine with a good dinner then I simply ask the sommelier to choose a glass of something wonderful to drink with each course. I like wine, but I’m no expert on it.
I have eaten some wonderful meat that would have tasted much less good if I’d interfered in the preparation and cooking of it, and I’ve drunk amazing wines that I know nothing about and would never have chosen from a wine menu. I have reaped the benefits of the chef’s knowledge and his craft, and I have enjoyed the skills of the sommelier.
I know what to do when I’m contracted to write a piece of work, and I understand that it’s important to give the client what he wants. ‘Savant’ doesn’t fit these remits, but that’s because it is all me. It is a combination of my art and my craft, and it pleases me.
|Savant will be widely available very soon|
I hope that ‘Savant’ will please others, too. Since it’s launch date was released, and copies are available for early review on Net Galley, I have been gratified to note that there is some interest in work that is unconventional and yet to be proven commercial.
‘Savant’ has popped up on a number of blogs as an interesting prospect, and I’ve even been hit up for some press interviews.
As artists, it seems natural to follow our own paths. I generally have a ready-made audience for the stuff that I do; I know what readers are expecting, and I do my best to give it to them.
This time, with ‘Savant’ my expectations were only that I express my own ideas, and only in a way that satisfied me and the story. It’s a liberating process, but a frightening one too.
People might have expectations of ‘Savant, and they might not be fulfilled; I hope that if that’s the case, readers will keep an open mind and be transported by my ideas and how I’ve set them out, rather than by their own expectations of what this book might or should be like or about.
Do I care about reviews? Do I care whether people like what I’ve done?
I suspect that this novel will divide readers, and I’m absolutely fine with that. I wrote the book, not because I was asked to, or because I pitched to do it, but because I had an idea that I wanted to play with. This is my world, inhabited by my characters, exploring themes that I think are interesting.
The point of the reader is the writer, always… But once any book is in a reader’s hands, it belongs exclusively to him, and he can think whatever he likes about it.
I’m a writer; I’ve taken a lot of rejection over the years, but if that allows me to keep doing what I do, and to keep making the things that matter to me, I’ll take the rejection.
‘Savant’ is available for pre-order. I hope that some of you will be sufficiently interested to reserve a copy, and with any luck, some of you will get something out of it. I know that I’ve got a great deal out of the process.
No, doubt, once the reviews start rolling in, I’ll be revisiting this book and this experience.
Wish me luck.