The title pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?
Be that as it may, Black Glass is a novel that I originally began conceptualising as far back as <cringe> May 2015, which is just under six very long years ago. In fact it was so long ago that I was actually still a student at the time. The idea was that I wanted to write a novel that put you into the mind of a very complex and dark character that unnerved and at times terrified, but at the same time would be someone you could understand if not relate to.
Over the years I (informally) studied psychology, particularly surrounding psychopathy and sadism. I know that those terms probably make you think about something like Freddy Kruger or Jason Voorhees, but the reality is that they are two very real concepts that exist in very real people. As the novel is fiction, it’s naturally dressed up in a fashionable storyline, but at the core of the book was the idea to realistically portray the type of personality that captures those qualities.
If I have to cite my biggest inspirations for the novel it would definitely be three unique works. The first would be one of my all-time favourite films Nightcrawler (2014) starring Jake Gyllenhaal, which explores a sociopathic character and his frighteningly goal-driven personality. The second would be one of the most intriguing novels ever written, Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, which to oversimplify matters puts you into the mind of a man who becomes enamoured by an underage girl. The final inspiration was the non-fiction book The Wisdom of Psychopaths by Kevin Dutton, which explored psychopathic traits and how they can be observed in many people in high risk or high stress jobs such as bomb disposal, surgeon or soldier.
The reason these works inspired me creatively was because they masterfully presented character perspectives that normal people cannot relate to, but as you engaged with the material you realised that you could totally get these characters. You could understand them, grasp what makes them tick, and be willing to follow their story, even if you actually find them deplorable or inhuman. That became a point of creative fixation for me, and I strived to create my own unique take on a character that made you want to turn the page irrespective of plot.
It took years writing this novel and dare I say many failures. My first draft of the book was overly ambitious and completely missed the mark in trying to do too much and being too unnecessarily long, with too many arcs. It had to be tossed out!
Soon after rewriting and completing the second draft I ended up submitting the first three chapters to Penguin Books, in what became one of my biggest early wins. The publisher actually wrote back to request the full novel, which is something that had never happened to me before. Caught in youthful overexcitement I became determined to go full speed ahead and submit the full manuscript, which was unfortunately declined for a myriad of reasons.
However the feedback I received brought me to a third rewrite, as Penguin Books was willing to relook at the novel after I proposed substantial changes. Again, I’d chalk this up to gross inexperience, but I focused a great deal on perhaps trying to tailor the book towards something the publisher would want rather than the story I needed to tell for all these years. As you can imagine the story was declined yet again, and this door pretty much closed.
You’d have thought that I would be dejected at that point, but instead I took a hard look at the novel and realised that what Penguin Books appreciated most about the story was in the initial three chapters, where all the character drama was. I learned a hard, much-needed lesson here, and began my fourth and final rewrite in drastically cutting down on unnecessary excess and too much plot and instead refocusing the entire story on what it was always meant to be about: the central character, and his eventual, destructive feud with a masochistic enigma.
I finally announced the publishing plan on my Instagram page, stating that the book would be available in paperback and ebook formats on Amazon on 02 March 2021.
Now the whole point behind why I chose to detail my journey with the book in this post rather than simply wave a sign saying ‘hey, look at my book’ is because I strongly feel that other writers may benefit from knowing this insane passion and struggle that we all share. The rejection, the temptation to scrap or even give up on an entire book, the rewrites, the mistakes and the inexperience or misguided ideas that come with being too close to a project. That is all just part and parcel of the whole journey and I believe all that matters in the end is creating something that you’re proud of and that achieves the goal you had in mind for it.
Of course the great cherry on top would be releasing something that actually speaks to, entertains or interests people, whatever your intent may be. I certainly hope that anyone who decides to pick up my book, finds something of interest within its pages.
On that note, I’ll end this off with the synopsis of the book:
To Damon Carter, a vicious torturer, little is more arousing than the submission of his victims, and the grand pleasure of seeing them shatter. Or so it had been before his art was stripped away from him, forcing him into exile.
Five years later Damon leads an empty, dull existence. Apathetic, docile, bored; he yearns for the means to escape his self-induced purgatory.
But unbeknown to him, years ago his torture left a mark on someone. A mark that festered into an intimate obsession with Damon’s true self.
When the enigmatic victim of his past hunts him down, a sycophant determined to reawaken the man underneath, Damon must reconcile his darkness if he is to win.