It’s out. Two years of writing and a few solid months of frenetic promo-ing, and I submitted the manuscript this morning with fear and trembling., and somewhere halfway through the day it went up. The Nephilim Protocol, my story about a half-angel teenager trying to escape an Alaskan prison island, is finally out. Just on Kindle for now, but the artist is putting together a paperback cover for that release too.
Naturally I hope to be a millionaire author; my more rational half of my brain tells me it’s more likely this will essentially be a vanity project, like mounting a stuffed bear in your living room. Not profitable, but very satisfying. I want to write a bunch of books in this series, so hopefully it will start to become profitable at some point, but with around 2000 books published a day, I don’t have great hopes of standing out. But one never knows. I certainly think it’s better than any other YA novel out there (but then I would) and my friends who have reviewed it agree (but then they would).
What I did want to post on was why I wrote the book the way I did–with horribly crude language and confrontational dialogue on taboo issues.
I never thought to write a book this way. I was always of the Louis L’Amour mode of thought–the violence, sex, and language that a writer implies can often be far more powerful than anything he actually writes. I have, my family will tell you, hundreds of stories in my brain, and most of them are squeaky-clean.
But I wanted to write a frank story that spoke directly to teens. I wanted to write a story for the high schoolers in my class. And to do that, I needed to speak to the issues that troubled them–issues of race, sex, history, and identity–in as frank and direct a way as they themselves did. More, I needed to confront, directly, the repugnant philosophies I saw them being confronted with day after day.
If I was going to make a story about racism, I couldn’t dance around the subject. If I was going to write about sex and gender, it would be fatal to shy away from what I was actually talking about. Teens talked about these things. They talked about them directly. And the main thing that was killing them was that all the good people were being too ambiguous and all the bad people were being too specific.
I also wanted to push against commonly held views, and also write about the struggle between what one should think, and what one often time really does think. It was necessary to show the dirty details of what goes on in a person’s head, to show how it contrasted with the more acceptable front people put up.
Of course, when your characters are frankly and explicitly dealing with issues of race and sex, it seems silly to balk at them using bad language to do so. But I could have done it. One idea I had was for the boys auto-translate ability (in the novel the Nephilim teenagers can understand any language) to immediately translate the sense of crudities instead of just leaving them in–instead of saying “what a blasted mess,” to have a character hear “what a big mess.” I still might make an edition that does that–I would dearly love conservative Christian teens to be able to read this book, and I fear in its current state it would not meet with their parent’s approval.
But I didn’t. I didn’t because the book argues for an extremely idealistic look on life, where virtue and honor will not be rewarded and may even be condemned, but should still be pursued. And such an idealistic viewpoint runs the risk of seeming abstract, naive, “goody-two-shoes” morals simply being recited because other books have done so.
It was critical that the book be genuine in all aspects. That the characters and dialogue should breathe raw and authentic emotions that would be impossible to dismiss as abstract or idealized. And I couldn’t do that if I was sanitizing the very words they spoke.
So I left the language in. Perhaps I was wrong to do so. I don’t know. It’s resulted in a book that I’ve purposely abstained from showing to certain family members, because I know they would not enjoy it. But as the dedications to my book says: “Whatever is good in this comes from God. Whatever is wrong in it comes from myself.”