Making of – Genesis

In the middle of 2008, I was stuck in writing a thriller kind of novel, which working title could read, in English, as « General audiences » (« Divertissement familial » is the current title in French).  I had already finished the first draft and I was struggling with the second one. I liked the story and the characters a lot, but for some reasons, I felt I had been on the task for too long. Finding time for writing being my main challenge in the course of my professional life, I wasn’t progressing as much as I should have.

Then we went on vacation, during the Christmas break, to Tobago.

I always write a lot when I travel. Not necessarily useful writing, but rather notes, divagation, pitches, quick story lines. Tobago appeared to be the perfect place for hosting the adventure of a character I had in mind for a while: Inko Abikel.

Let me explain this a bit.

For « General audiences »,  I created a whole brotherhood, the Abikel family whose family tree you can see below. The main characters I use for the thriller are: Yves, the eldest son, Koldo and Eneko.

My fictional family

It’s a half-brittany half-basque family, a combination of two French areas with a strong culture and a history of fights for independency which included, at some stages, acts of violence against the French State. In itself, that’d promise strong characters.

As the father was an admiral, all males have a military past, which serves well characters of a thriller. For the sake of setting up the fictional world, I drafted the family tree, found a combination of first names either from Bretagne of from Pays Basque, gave an age and an occupation for all them. I decided one of the brothers, Inko, should be mysterious and I wrote something like « unknown fate » under his name.  I had the vague idea to write a story where he would be looked for and found by one of his brother in Campeche, a very dull Mexican city (I’ve been there, I swear it’s a bit dull).

Tobago beated Campeche.

Tobago seemed a better place to host Inko’s adventures. Ideas started to flow and I drafted a full story together with main characters’ quick descriptions in my notebook. I granted Inko with the ability of being a living lucky charm, someone who just brings luck to your project, and I paired him with a photographer seeking unspotted birds he could sell pictures of to amateurs from the whole world. ‘Cause you know, to spot rare birds, you kind of need some luck.

And I added a girl into the mix. You need a girl, always. A girl with a flat breast and a lot of freakles. The girl in the photo (from a party flyer in Brussels) was the main inspiration.

In the novel, her name is Cigale.

The story I had in mind was a simple one, a « roman noir » variation, only under the tropics.

Back home, the story appealed more than « General audiences » and I started the preparatory work, thinking I’d have all needed documentation when I would start the real writing.  With the documentation came more ideas. Voodoo and zombies. A really bad guy. A common past which would have bounded the photograph and the lucky charm together.

Before I knew it, I was writing the story.

I was convinced it would be fast. Six monthes, eight at the most, to finish the first draft.

It took me two years. One chapter was hell. I rewrote it more then a dozen times, and I am not kidding, mainly because I had a ship to destroy and I had never done such a thing before. How do you sink a sailing ship? Nevermind.

The first draft was finished the day before what became the most important charming disturbing element of my life: the birth of my first child.

I let the draft sleep for a couple of months – and it was the only thing who actually slept during six months in our house. Then, during the summer vacation, I revised and finalized it. The manuscript was ready in September 2010.

I sent it, as of today, to 18 French publishers and to very few friends. The latter like it more, since I only received negative answers from publishers. There are still rejection letters on their way, I suppose, and I identified six more publishers who could be interested in a story of two guys chasing birds, sinking a ship, encountering zombies,  looking for a world famous writer leaving in George Clooney’s summer house and becoming friend with a 20 years old girl whose tits are somehow still growing – (in random order).

I wanted to write a « making of » about this novel for no particular reason other than sharing the process, the doubt and the fun of writing. Even if am not to become a professional writer, writing is what I like to do the best. I hope I’ll be able to publish more posts on specific aspects of the work.

Of course, if you’re a French publisher, hey, drop me a line, I’ll be happy to send you the novel. It rocks. It’s your next summer best seller!!!

(I should learn to sell myself better, my friends say)

And what happened to « General audiences »?, you may wonder. Well, it’s a long post already, isn’t it?

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