Wednesday, November 2, 2011

the diving bell

I have a hard time answering this question that I am most frequently asked: What is your book about?

My usual answer is this: It is about 400 pages or so.

The reasons I have a hard time answering the question are many, and here are a few of them:

1. The book is "about" something else to me than it will be "about" to you.

I do not know how to make up a good answer as to what it will be "about" to you.

I have never read flap copy on one of my books that did not make me want to crawl under some random object of furniture and drink Clorox (and I apologize for saying that).

2. I see my books holistically. It is almost impossible for me to describe a storyboarded this then this then this, which is how most people "see" books. So, for that reason, I also cannot really say what my books are about.

3. I do not like talking about the "about" of my books. I apologize for saying that, too.

But I will talk, from time to time, about universes.

Last week, I wrote a post about universes -- scientific theories about this one here, and how those theories relate to the structure of Jack's universe in The Marbury Lens and in Passenger.

I mentioned that at some point in the future I would talk about Stark McClellan's universe, too. Stark McClellan is the narrator and protagonist in my latest novel, Stick.

Don't ask me what it's about.

I was interviewed by a radio station yesterday, and the interviewer asked me what Stick was about. I didn't really know what to say. My answer took about fifteen minutes, I think, and I don't think I described one single this then this then this kind of event.

Because I was looking at a universe.

I think if you grow up inside a blacksmith's furnace, you will not know there are universes which are not hot and smoky.

Heat and smoke will be the exact same things as cozy blankets in bed and the smell of Thanksgiving dinner cooking in the house to other people in other universes.

A blacksmith's furnace is a pretty simple universe.

Kids have an amazing power to see universes with awe and wonder. We learn to get sickened and scared when we grow up.

That's what Stick is about.