I have a few "sock drawer novels" knocking around – a dreadful romantic thriller set on Capri, a historical tragedy inspired by the life of the poet Catullus and a mock-Gothic mystery involving the Brothers Grimm. All were half-written in my teens and early twenties, when I was under the delusion that fiction was about fame, money and the love of beautiful men.
However, nothing fills me with as much relief as the idea that my space opera, The Abyss of Time, will never see the light of day. Like all budding writers, I was trying to copy what had excited me most when growing up. In those days, Faber still published its best SF short story collections, and there were some genuinely cutting-edge writers such as Robert Heinlein, John Christopher, Ursula Le Guin, Philip K Dick and Cordwainer Smith who excited me enormously, especially when I was feeling cramped by reading Eng Lit at Cambridge and being told that Modernism was the last gasp of civilisation. I wanted monsters, magic, marvels and bombs, not bloody Leopold Bloom trudging round Dublin. When I conceived of a towering space opera based on The Tempest, with Prospero as a genetic scientist living in exile with his "daughter" Miranda on an asteroid, and Ariel and Caliban as warring aliens, I was thrilled.
A mixture of magniloquent philosophy and stilted pornography, its climax involved a lot of intergalactic explosions and a hermaphroditic elopement. Really, I just needed to live longer, calm down and get out more.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
This deathless manuscript lacked charm
A rather delightful piece at the Independent in which ten "famous writers" reveal the details of books of their own that never saw the light of day. I must say that I am rather tempted to pick up a few novels of Amanda Craig's at the library, I think I've only read one of them but if her unwritten books are so appealing the written ones must be even better: