By Paul M. Lewis
As I talked about in a blog posting done in early November of last year, I began the process of writing the novel soon after retiring at the end of 2006. During that time, it has gone through numerous phases, forms, iterations, and edits, and, although it’s been a long slog, I am happy to announce that it has now finally been published.
Here is a short description of what it’s about:
It’s the year 2024 and the world is teetering on the brink of global environmental disaster and nuclear war. Nora Del Bosque tells her husband, Aden Delaterre, she’s leaving to report for the Los Angeles Times on a crucial meeting at the new Chicago headquarters of the United Nations. With the world about to fall apart, this is the last thing he wants to hear. A professor and environmental specialist, Aden understands all too well the risks and dangers involved. But the worst does happen, and the two become lost to each other. In the ensuing years, they lead lives apart in isolated communities without modern technology or the conveniences once taken for granted. Separated and still longing for each other, they both rise to positions of power and leadership in fragments of civilization torn by their own brand of conflict based on religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation and race. They meet traditionalists, doctrinal zealots, outrageous individualists, as well as shamans and those wise in the ways of the world. Each discovers their own intuitive awakening and comes to know and rely on their personal Spirit Guides.
After the Devastation is a romance, as well as a story of political intrigue and magical mysticism. It is a tale of global crisis and of a post-apocalyptic future for humanity, riven by our ever-present flaws, but bolstered by our greatest attributes. The novel poses the questions we ultimately all need to ask ourselves: can we learn from our past mistakes, and in the end are people capable of building a new and better world for themselves, even after the devastation?
Writing the novel was, in a sense, the easier part. I’m comfortable sitting quietly, spinning stories in my study. Someone once told me that the job of the writer is to fabricate interesting characters, chase them up a tree, and then start throwing stones at them. I like that. People in stories are at their most interesting when they have to face difficulties. And, as readers, we can relate to others who are facing stuff, either of their own making or imposed on them by forces beyond their control. One way or another, if characters are well drawn, we should be able to see ourselves in them. And in so identifying with them and their struggles, maybe this even helps us somehow gain insight into our own difficulties.
But now, I’m faced with a task that I find much more daunting, that is, marketing the novel. This isn’t something that comes easily or naturally to me. As it turns out, advertising a book once it’s written is a whole different world. The word “promotion” keeps coming up. But being center stage is not necessarily my preferred location. Generally, I’d rather stand to the side and let others bask in the limelight (to follow, perhaps too far, the theatrical metaphor). But being in that limelight, I am told, is the very job definition of an author these days. He or she has to get out there and “sell the book.”
So, I’ll do my best, and here’s what I’ve done so far. I’ve worked with someone who has done an excellent job at creating a website for me. You can go to www.paulmlewis.com and take a look for yourself and, if you’ve a mind to, you can even order a copy of the book there. I would also love to hear what you think about it, and you’ll see a place there on the website where you can go to leave comments. There’s a picture of me there, too, more or less center stage (well, center screen at least), and a photo of the cover of the book, generously and beautifully designed by my blog-partner, Kevin L. Miller. And finally, there’s a link that will lead you right back here to the Two Old Liberals site, so you can come full circle.
Another part of the process has been to send out an email blast to friends in order to alert them to the publication. Most of them have even been kind enough to write back, congratulating me, which has been enormously gratifying. Human kindness is always something I am profoundly appreciative of. And some of them have gone ahead and ordered the book.
I’ll be creating a Facebook page for the book, too, and will reach out to the local press, once I have a press release—a thing which is in process—and see if anyone might be willing to review the book. And I’m ready to make myself available to speak to anyone, or any group, at any time, about the book or about the process of writing the book. This part I really don’t mind doing at all, if it happens, as I enjoy talking to groups and grew used to it in my previous professional life. And hopefully there will be other opportunities that may present themselves for me to promote the book.
It’s true that all this comes at the expense of writing essays for this blog, or even of creating another novel (and I do have some thoughts about doing exactly that). But first things first is no doubt the best advice I can give myself. The essential question still remains: how best to gear myself up for standing in the spotlight and promoting the book? After much soul-searching, here is what I have finally come up with: I will not think of it as promoting myself. Instead, I’ll think of it as promoting the characters in the book. After all, I like them; I could say I love them, I suppose, even the evil ones. And it’s my job to try to give them a life in the wider world by letting people know about the book. Remember that part about chasing characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them, because people are at their most interesting when they’re challenged? Well, here’s my chance to chase myself up the tree. Now I’ll get to see how I handle those rocks, if any are thrown at me.
It will give me a chance to show my metal, just as I’ve given my characters an opportunity to prove theirs. And that’s only fair. So, promote away I will. I’ll stand on whatever stage comes my way, happily speak to any group, and write about my characters or my process of creating them. Because, in the end, aside from sitting quietly and spinning stories in my study, this is the job of a writer in today’s world. And—or so I’m beginning to discover—that’s the fun of it!