Message From The Author
Death Most Definite had a long road to publication, but most books do. Writing most books is really about persevering, following your passions, and letting the book guide you. Even books that pour from your head still require you to sit down face your fears and doubts and write.
I wrote the first line of the novel back in 2005. I had the voice down, and I liked it. I had the opening image, a guy, Steve, sees a dead girl walking towards him. And I had the sense that it was love at first sight, even if my character didn’t quite realise it. In fact I could tell that my character was embarrassed by how unprofessional he was. But that was all I knew.
I really didn’t have a clue where I was going, or that it would lead to my first book, or that it wouldn’t just be published in my home country of Australia, but also in the US and the UK too.
Probably a good thing or I might have panicked and stopped then and there. Actually I think I did panic a bit. I had what I thought was a great beginning but no idea how to go on from there.
So I worked on other things. Submitted other novels, had them rejected, worked at the day job. And I did this for over year, while that opening languished.
And then I realised that Steve was a Pomp (short for psychopomp) and that his job was guiding souls into the Underworld and his employer was Death. Oh, and someone was killing off Pomps, and the girl was there to save him. Her first word is “run.”
And from that word, Steve and I were both running, racing through the book to get to its finish. At this stage I was no longer working full time, deciding, at the insistence of my wife, to chase my dream. So every morning I would walk down to the local library with my pen and paper and write more of Steve’s adventures. The book dragged me along with it’s own momentum, and I couldn’t wait to get back to it each day.
While I had been writing the book Orbit had been looking at another novel of mine. It came close to publication but wasn’t a good enough fit. The rejection while disappointing would have been much more shattering if I hadn’t just finished Death Most Definite.
I asked them if they’d like to have a look at my new book. They said yes, and after reading it, the senior editor at Orbit Australia thought it was good, but still needed work.
Would I be happy to rework it?
Would I ever! I reworked the novel, trying to not get too excited, and telling myself not to be too disappointed if it didn’t sell. The rewrites were well received, but it was still a good six months before I got the word that yes, Orbit wanted to publish me. The first person I called was my wife.
Death Most Definite, is a fast paced action romance with a hero who, while a nice guy, isn’t really much of a hero, but rises to the occasion as much as he can. He’s pretty much on the run from the get go.
But he does have a few allies, chiefly the dead girl, Lissa, and his cousin, Tim. And as the book progresses Steve starts to grow up. By the end of the first book he’s come quite far, but he still has long a way to go.
Along the way I made plenty of changes, even after it was accepted and I went through a round of structural edits, At one stage Steve had a girlfriend, but this made him too unsympathetic, and there was a whole love triangle subplot I cut out involving a writer, because writing about writers is a perilous business at the best of times. I lost scenes that I loved because they didn’t work in the context of the story. I even changed characters’ names a few times.
But always, at its heart, it was a book about love and the lengths that a person will go to spend more time with the person they love: no matter what the cost.
And it was love that helped me finish it. Without the love and support of my wife, Diana, I doubt I would have seen the book through to the end. She gave me the time and space to finish the book, and all along the road to publication she was by my side. Writing’s a solitary profession, but without the support of love of those close to you I think it would be almost impossible.
- Trent Jamieson
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