"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand. For all one knows, that demon is simply the same instinct that makes a baby squall for attention. And yet it is also true that one can write nothing readable unless one constantly struggles to efface one's personality. Good prose is like a windowpane." ~ GEORGE ORWELL
And yet I did it. I've done it multiple times in the past, and have plans to do it again; it seems to be in the blood. Last Friday morning, the third installment of the Beyond the Rails series landed on Amazon in both print and e-book formats. For some time now, I have been fielding suggestions that the crew of the Kestrel should expand into novels, leaving behind their short-story format. I was resistant to the notion for a good long while, due to the fact that the characters and situations were designed to support short stories. However, I finally decided that, like TV shows and video games that make the jump to the big screen, taking Beyond the Rails into the format of the novel was a worthy endeavor. It was a long time coming, I know, and the reason for that was the need to examine the history and determine what loose ends were left in the stories, and there were plenty, that could be brought together and tied up, what supporting characters warranted space in the "big book," and what subplots and distractions could be woven into the fabric. And now it's done. I have, as Red Smith said, "sat down at a keyboard and opened a vein," and now the results are out there, open to every sort of scrutiny, and for the next days and weeks I will be waiting with that odd mix of eagerness and apprehension for the first reviews to come in. I have my own opinions of the crew's transition, but mine aren't the ones that count!
Since much of the purpose of blogging, Facebooking, Goodreading, and so on is to boost sales, allow me to present the synopsis from the back cover:
It’s March of 1883, and the inhabitants of the east African colony of Kenya are preparing for the Long Rain. The crew of the Kestrel, a small cargo blimp, are no exception, trying to squeeze in the last few paying runs before two months of high winds and constant rain sweep the airships from the sky.
Arriving in their midst is an old acquaintance, an Australian woman of uncertain background who brings an unbelievable story, and asks them to aid her in what seems to be an impossible task. She offers to pay them well, but can the money she offers be nearly enough to compensate for the danger she plans to place them in? And what business could the mysterious team of international bounty hunters be engaged upon?
Join the crew of the Kestrel for their longest journey yet, a thrill-packed, suspenseful ride through a world of shadowy operators that could prove to be their last.
Exciting enough for you? I hope so, and I hope the book lives up to it. It was a year of hard work, exacerbated by much nail-biting, backtracking, and do-overs, and I most sincerely hope it was worth it. Time, and the reviews, will tell! If you'd care to join in that particular feeding frenzy, you can get your copy, print or Kindle, by clicking the cover in the left sidebar. Whatever you think, I'd love to hear from you!
Until next week, then, play nice, look out for one another, and above all else, get out there and live life like you mean it!