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OK/Rory – a reflection on beginning a novel

Yonks ago I wrote a book. It was called Atlas but no one wanted to publish it. It was about a boy, Rory, who found an atlas and got obsessed over it.  It was set in Huyton (my hometown of Freddie Starr, Steven Gerrard, Rex Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe) in 1995. Well not at first. At first it was set in Huyton now but then it changed and fell through time and space etc.

Some less yonks ago I had this idea for a novel.  It was a sort of fantasy young adult thing about a girl called Ok in this weird future where the sun was massive. I’ve always had an irrational dislike of the sun (can’t stand beaches, sunsets, horizons, light streaming through the stained glass window of a cathedral – it makes me feel like I’ve got Lou Gehrig’s disease).

I wrote this (a very short story):

Ok was fourteen.  She was a woman now, no one could deny that.  The tower rose above the valley. It was a thing of glass and secrets.  Just getting through the valley was dangerous enough but even when night fell and she could them crying and slithering she didn’t stop walking. “Ok,” her father had asked, “why do you need to go to the tower?”  Ok didn’t tell him the real reason. The stairs spiraled around the tower.  All the way up she could see the valley, the desert and the savage beasts through the glass.  The savage beasts were coming down from the mountains now. At the top of the tower she waited with the horn pressed to her lips.

Then I started thinking about Rory again. Rory was always a bit of weirdo.  In Atlas he accidentally kills his girlfriend and her brother.  I also started thinking of the idea of the character’s literary interests seeping into their voice – in Atlas, Rory’s favourite book was Catcher in the Rye.  He also liked The Rachel Papers.  I sat down and I wrote a chapter for a new ‘Rory’ novel and it became a little of a pastiche of Holden Caulfield.  There was the same element of Rory potentially becoming obsessed with something – in this instance instead of an atlas it was photographs of a girl.  I then started to think about who the girl in the photographs was and slowly she became Ok (or OK).  I began to plot a novel that sort of merged a coming age story with a fantasy/sci-fi/dystopian story – two narratives combining.  I wanted to limit myself and give myself a clear structure. The last novel/la I wrote was sort of spurred on by its structure – that of a sort of stream of consciousness, breathless, pace.  In this OK/Rory prototype novel I thought of writing each chapter as a paragraph – flicking back between OK and Rory. I think this is probably influenced by my reading of A Song of Fire and Ice and my own writing (I’ve been writing alot of fantasy with the goal of starting a novel called ‘Of Shadows and Mist’ which has that sort of George R R Martin multiple POV). So I did some editing of the Rory chapter, cut it down and then thought of OK. I had this sort of flash that if Rory’s ‘voice’ imitates other coming of age sort of novels then maybe OK could echo choose your own adventure stories.  And I had ‘You are ok…’ as an opening.  I liked that uneasy voice, the sort of strange narrator – unearthly. I used it in a chapter of Ark Noon (one of the discarded asides)  That chapter became a short story – DG, DG, DG (was I subconsciously creating OK from DG?).

Anywho I’ve ‘wroted’ a few chapters of OK/Rory and so I’ll post the opening 2 here.  It starts with OK and then flicks to Rory. I’m sort of thinking it’s a Young Adult type book but I also want there to be darkers scenes in there, maybe even some sex and definitely a bear getting beheaded (not really – I like bears).

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About michaeleganpoetry

Liverpool based poet and editor. I have had four pamphlets of poetry published, most recently After Stikklestad (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press, 2010). Penned in the Margins published my first collection, Steak & Stations, in 2010.

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