Tuesday, March 12, 2024

A Long-Cherished Ambition: *The River Quest*

 I wrote this novel in the 1970s, most likely the summer of '78, when I'd been through an English winter and discovered the joys of English spring, including not merely daffodils on the - hoof? wing? ground? but the glory of hyacinths - from the little wild blue grape type to the big cultivated white and purple and fuchsia/pink pinecone-shaped ones with the exquisite scent. So this novel, though it's a classic Quest that begins in a desert-land country in the crisis of a major drought, was first titled Hyacinths. 

Its earliest project was actually to write something that started, "Once Upon a Time," though it would be a kind of YA tale. As with The Lord of the Rings, that didn't survive the first chapter. Not only was I a strong devotee of said LotR, I was just through three years of researching a Punic War novel all round the Mediterranean. Gods, cosmologies and especially ancient Middle Eastern geography and history, were coming out my ears. TRQ was hence a delightfully stuffed compendium.  All that remained of the original project was a proposed tagline that promised "one monster per chapter."

Under whatever name, the novel languished in various formats, from type-written paper to various e-file incarnations, while I went on to write and eventually publish other fiction, until almost last year. It was never the right time, the right market, the right... Eventually, back with the writer's group of Book View Cafe, and determining to get as much of my fiction into view while I could, I returned to Hyacinths.

At that point I firmly decided the title wouldn't work, especially in the high -antasy-saturated 21st Century market, so after a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing I decided on the somewhat old-fashioned but accurate and identifiable new name of The River Quest. It did fit both the book and the illustration I eventually picked for the cover: somewhat old-fashioned, but striking, and not the usual current style.

Followed the protracted actual work of getting into print. First author edits, to sort out the punctuation and so on, then a beta reader, and more editing. Then, designing the actual cover - ie., with the text as well as the picture. Then the excitements of Ebook formatting, with which I was already somewhat familiar from Adventures with a Promethean. And the steeper learning curve of prepping a Print on Demand edition to go to Amazon, including working out the right paper size - in points of a centimeter -  for the interior material, and having someone design the full cover, with a spine, which is far beyond my modest abilities. 

Now, at last, it's out there. I look at the cover with some pleasure and more pride, and most of all, a deep satisfaction: that what began with, "Once upon a time" on a portable typewriter in a back room of a relation's house in Sussex, is now an actual novel, visible to readers. And the characters, who I rather disregarded in the original focus on monsters, are visible too. As an extra bonus, they have surprised me by remaining not merely credible, at least to me, but growing, nuanced, people in their own right. 

 You can find The River Quest in ebook form on Book View Cafe at 


You will need to Convert for a Kindle reader, and do NOT heed the outmoded label on the book page to choose Mobi for a Kindle. There isn't a Mobi edition, because Amazon don't use it any more.

 For the paper version, go direct to Amazon, here:


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