I guess I always knew I would end up writing a book. As a child I loved reading books, and realize now that I was interested in how stories were constructed as well as how they turned out. I dimly recall working out scenes and bits of dialogue in my head, before I ever had any intention of writing anything down. I made my friends act out little dramas based on my favourite book at the time – Kipling’s Jungle Book. In high school I wrote my first “novel” – some sort of ancient Egyptian adventure inspired by the novels of Joan Grant, who claimed that they were records of her past lives.
This habit of seizing on works by other people and making them my own was responsible for my “real” novels. As a years-long fan of H.P. Lovecraft, I was curious about his story “Herbert West, Reanimator,” because HPL himself said it wasn’t much good. How bad could it be, I wondered, and finally tracked down a copy in 1998. It’s true that the story is no literary landmark, but it certainly had an effect on me.
I was fascinated by Herbert West, HPL’s corpse-reanimating physician and his friend the nameless narrator. Without my consent, my imagination began to play with them and threw up a scenario in which the friend is not a fellow medical student but a librarian at Miskatonic University. He and Herbert meet over the Necronomicon, HPL’s fabled book of magical lore. The book acts as a kind of catalyst, beginning a years-long process whereby Herbert is transformed from a “mad scientist” into a magus, psychopomp and healer.
The Herbert West Series consists of four books. It started out as the Herbert West Trilogy, but after I chopped the middle book into two, a “trilogy in four volumes” seemed like an unlikely concept.
Self-publishing became respectable and relatively easy just in time to rescue me from the sad fate of the Unpublished Writer. My books do not fit comfortably into any recognizable genre, being a mixture of supernatural, psychological and literary fiction, with a dash of romance here and there. Their main character’s origin in a rather lurid pulp horror story from the 1920s pretty much excludes them from the purely literary realm. With the deluge of submissions flowing to publishers in recent years, it’s no wonder that no one jumped at the chance to acquire them.
So in 2010, having become aware of Smashwords and WordPress, I published myself. I have been fairly satisfied with the experience, especially since I reissued the books with professionally designed cover images early in 2014.
After the Herbert West Series, I wrote another novel in 2007-2008 – Winter Journeys, a celebration of Franz Schubert’s gloriously gloomy song cycle Winterreise. This is definitely a literary work, and for a time I had hopes that one of the literary publishers with which Canada abounds would be interested, but no such luck. To be truthful, I now wonder whether this work is too much outside the Zeitgeist of the present to be worth the effort of publishing. (See, even a self-publisher can do rejections!)
It’s been way too long since I did any substantial new writing, but the writer part of my brain is busy plotting two new works – a sequel to the Herbert West Series set in Egypt (proving that one’s interests really do go in circles) and an adventure set in a fantasy world. World-building is hard work, which is why this one may take a while to materialize.
In the meantime, I continue to write a blog post nearly every week – all I can manage with a full time job, spouse, cat and garden. Some posts are about writing or books I’ve read; others are about what’s happening in my garden. Quite often, I feel I’m talking to myself, but I persist. If there was a Dogged Blogger Award, I would deserve it.
My blog, which has links to my books, is helpfully called Audrey Driscoll’s Blog.
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