22 October 2017


Two major things happened in 2006. The second most important of these was that I began the novel whose cover you see above as a NaNoWriMo novel in the November of that year. The more important one was that I met the woman who was to become my wife and I dedicated this book to her.

For eleven long years, she has berated me for releasing novels dedicated to other people, but never one dedicated to her. Well, at last, she will have to move on to saying instead: "It took you over a decade to release that book that's dedicated to me." So, that's something I guess.

Why so long, why did No Dice RPG, Shadow Cities, Three Chicago Shadows novels, The Elias Anomaly and the first volume of Tales From Bridgetown beat Starfall to print? Because I wanted it to be as right as it possibly could be and I set myself one hell of a task to achieve that.

Over the past month, I have been writing about Vodun and a little about Celtic Myth (more on both to follow, I am not done), and it has made me realise that I was either inspired or an idiot to combine both of these topics into one volume, especially as I also touch on actual events from the history of the Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire border from Roman times on, handle the tricky business of casual domestic abuse, and try to wrap it all up in a tale about gods, alchemists and holy fools taking a long journey into a curious state of metaphysical awakening.

That kind of thing takes a while to bake. I am not saying that I did it perfectly. I think Starfall is a challenging book, sometimes I think it is too heavy for anyone to actually finish reading it, then I consider its various nooks and fascinations and I wonder whether I am too unkind to my own work.

This is a novel that can't not exist. Too much time and love and power have been rolled into it. It stands alone as the only novel I know of that makes heroes of practitioners of Vodun, and I don't really know why that is because nothing I have read about that spiritual practice since has led me to think they are unworthy of being heroes. In a way, what makes them interesting is that the loa are more than heroes, they can be champions of life and defenders of the human condition, but always know that they have secrets and duties and they must fulfil those as well. It means that they are difficult, dangerous heroes and those tend to be the better kind.

Also, the book takes a good long look at a kind of Western spiritual exceptionalism, via an examination of some of the main points of the alchemist's work, the loa of Vodun are the perfect counterpoint to the pomposity of the dry, arcane spiritual man's club of alchemy. I am not kind to alchemy in this volume, although I am careful to make it plain that most of the alchemy performed by characters in the novel is nothing of the sort.

In case you worry that I am spoiling the novel for you, rest assured, that I am not. I have merely become aware that Starfall is a book that would benefit from a guided tour and I am the most qualified to be the tour guide.

Working on Starfall has led me to the conclusion that if a book would not benefit from the addition of annotations and a study of its mythos and philosophy then it is not a book that I would care to read, and certainly not one I would care to write. I see too many authors now concerned solely with fun, and product, and sales rankings, and selling, selling, selling. I would like people to buy this book, I think it is well worth the time and energy someone would invest in reading it, but people buying Starfall is not the point, I don't think it ever has been.

I am not even sure you can confidently say that any artistic creation has one, definite point. So I am glad that Starfall exists beyond one point or another, so I can hope that each person who comes to it finds their own point in this strange conjuration of spirits, gods, and monsters.

(P.S. If you are here on the 22nd of October then, congratulations, you have won a special internet no-prize for actually finding the book a little prior to "official" publication. I will not attempt to drive people here until the 23rd)

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