What’s it about?

Day 2…

Now you’ve seen what the novel’s about, and the pictures in my previous post, you might want to know what moved me in that direction.

I had some vague ideas about this being a science-fiction horror novel sprinkled with the supernatural, but to really get a handle on the direction this book will take, before I really start thinking about ghosts, orbs and haunted houses, I had to ask myself some fundamental questions. I’ve decided on the genre, but what else? How am I going to make this novel stand out? Is there a theme? A moral lesson? Do I want to write it in first person present tense, third person, or maybe even both? How many characters am I going to have? And what else do I need to consider before getting down to business?

Lots to think about isn’t there? I’m not the type that can just start writing and let the keyboard lead me. I have to plan it all. Meticulously.

First things first then, I want to write something different to my debut novel. The Soul Consortium was a story about the clash of eternal things and final things; essentially  a story about the last human looking for the courage to die. I want to swing the pendulum the other way in Gaia’s Engine and bring things closer to home. I also want to deal with a community rather than a single survivor. That led me to explore two things:

Firstly, I want to look at the whole issue of religious faith and what it’s like to lose it. Although it wasn’t technically perfect, some of my best writing was done when I dealt with this very issue in my own life, so I can broach the topic with a fair amount of authority. We all know the dangers of cults, but how do rational people get taken in by them? And more specifically, what are we to think about the leaders of these cults? We rarely paint these people in a good light, because usually, we only hear about the negative effects in society, but from personal experience as someone who had a certain amount of influence in peoples’ spiritual lives, I know that the story is far from simple.

So, this story’s protagonist will be a man leading a cult who is having serious difficulty with his faith; he’s a man who considers himself to be honest and responsible, yet faces the dangerous potential of his religious beliefs on others. I want the reader to face the same fundamental questions he’s facing – similar to my own experiences, but somewhat exaggerated.

The secondly thing I want to explore is the power of influence. The link to the protagonist’s faith is obvious – he’s a charismatic leader whose influence over his flock is substantial (no, that’s not me – that’s the fantasy exaggeration). But I want to widen the scope and bring in several other characters who influence people in different ways. Influence can range from simple and humble suggestions to out-and-out possession of a person’s mind. There’s also blackmail, deception, seduction, hypnotic suggestion – a whole range of different modes of influence. Pursuing these should lead the characters into some interesting conflicts.

So, for starters, these are the main themes of the book and I pretty much spent a few days mulling over those. Next time (hopefully tomorrow) I’ll be blogging about getting myself organised.

189 Responses to “What’s it about?”

  • Beverley Champ says:

    Simon you are an up and coming star and i am very much looking forwards to more. I have every faith in you and your work and am a fan plus a friend. I wish I had your talent for writing, reading is a passion of mine and i would love to be able to write too. Maybe one day the words will come. All the best with your books for the future and this blog I think it’s a great idea. Beverley x

  • Simon WB says:

    Thanks Bev,
    That’s so kind of you. If you do want to write, why not have a stab at jotting out a short story? I bet you have a tale or two to tell. x

  • Paul Eckert says:


    Love the way this story is shaping up. The themes you’re hitting on are also of great interest to me, the dangerous line that faith walks in our world.

    Can’t wait to see some of this. Until then, really enjoying the blog.

  • Simon WB says:

    Thanks Paul.
    I want the struggle of faith to be a big part of Gaia’s Engine. The real trick will be to get the balance right between reality and fiction. Should be fun.

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