First novels are curious creatures because they are rarely, of course, first novels.
It’s very rare for a writer to sit down, write a first novel, and a little way down the line have it published. More often than not, a ‘first’ novel is the result of years of laborious apprenticeship, writing numerous novels in order to learn the craft, and abandoning them to the bottom drawer or, more drastically, to the flaming hearth.
There are exceptions, of course. J.K. Rowling’s first effort found a publisher – after numerous rejections – and I seem to recall it did rather well. And the host of this site, Keith Brooke, sold the very first novel he wrote, Keepers of the Peace, damn him.
But for the rest of us, the hill is steeper.
Looking back on my career, the hill seems to have been a mountain of my own making.
You see, I was labouring under a misapprehension from the very start.
In my late teens I read somewhere, in an interview with the SF great Alfred Bester, that all writers must write a million words of rubbish before they finally become published. Now, had I read that the prescribed total should be a hundred thousand words, I might have been published a lot earlier… But that magical million words lodged in my brain and wouldn’t be shifted – affecting me, I’m sure, subconsciously, and ensuring that Meridian Days came out when it did.
Meridian Days, my first novel, was in fact around my twentieth written novel.
In ’84 I spent a year in India, and that seemed to spark something – that, and the fact that I’d written a million words of rubbish, and a few years after I got back I began writing the short stories which would be published in Interzone, beginning in ’87.
Meridian, twenty light years from Earth and with just a tiny scattering of inhabitable islands, seems the perfect place for Bob Benedict to escape the tragedy of his past. But when he meets Fire Trevellion he is drawn into a world of corruption and murder that is far darker than his past. Soon it’s all he can do just to survive…
“British writing with a deft, understated touch: wonderful” – New Scientist
“SF infused with a cosmopolitan and literary sensibility… accomplished and
affecting” – Paul McAuley
“One of the very best of the new generation of British SF writers” – Vector
“Eric Brown has an enviable talent for writing stories which are the essence
of modern science fiction and yet show a passionate concern for the human
predicament and human values” – Bob Shaw