(And readers, please click on the book titles above to read my reviews. The Valley has just been released this month and looks set to be a real must-read.)
The World of Literature
by Brandon Daily
Back in 2012, I was a high school teacher who had written a full-length novel as a dare to myself (to see if I could write something long after having only written short fiction for a Creative Writing class in college).
Like any writer, I had dreams and illusions of having that novel published, but I was (and still am) a realist, and so I realized that it probably wasn’t to be. The publishing world seemed like a glitz and glam Hollywood world from some old-time movie, where brilliant story-tellers hung out together and talked of stories and fictional worlds. The thought of joining that world played itself out in my mind often. So often, in fact, that I thought, “Why the heck not try to be part of that world.” And so I sent out submissions of the book to a dozen publishers. Then, the next week, I sent it out to a dozen more. And another dozen the next week. And then I waited.
When the rejections started coming in, I thought it was proving my point—I wasn’t meant for that world. But then one day in May 2013, I received a message from Knox Robinson Publishing saying that they were interested in my novel, A Murder Country, a literary and historical thriller. They wanted to publish that little book that I wrote to prove to myself that I could.
The next year and a half of my life raced by and dragged on, all at the same time. My September 2014 release date seemed to never come, while, simultaneously, arriving before I had fully wrapped my head around the fact that I could actually call myself an “author” (something I still have never been able to say aloud—so many people come up to me and say, “You’re an author?” And I reply back with an embarrassed smile, “Ah, I wrote a book. That’s it.”). And then it was released, and I realized that my perception of the world was changed.
From September 2014, I was able to see the publishing world for what it is: very real and very much business-oriented. Though I’ve met many authors since being published, I have never been invited to an exclusive party to talk about character-creation with other authors, there’s no secret handshake that I was clued in on. There was no glitz, there was no glam. I could say that I was disheartened by this. But, truth be told, I wasn’t. Instead, I found a new excitement, something I’d never had before. I devoted myself to the work and ideas of the work—to the books, not just mine, but to the stories that others were telling, the things readers were reading and talking about.
After being published, I became fascinated not by the publishing world but by the book world. And I loved it. I followed blogs and reviewers, awards and competitions I’d never heard of. I began to subscribe to book magazines and journals, reading up—studying up—on the writing practices of established authors, the diets of classic writers; you name a topic related to authors and their books, I read up on it. And what baffles me now (and I’m pretty sure I realized it at the time) is that none of this made me a better writer or allowed me to market A Murder Country more effectively, it didn’t help with creating the plot of my next book; instead, I found a love for the world that I now lived within. And it is a world that I still happily live within—a few weeks ago, when Bob Dylan was announced the Nobel Winner for Literature (I’ll hold off on giving my thoughts on this announcement, for fear of offending anyone’s opinions), my mind was blown, along with the rest of the literary world, since I’d been following the process for the past year. Before having a book published, I would have heard the news and thought, “Cool,” and nothing else of it. But now I am invested in what literature is and what it will become, and so the topics I normally would have sloughed off now hold a deep and personal meaning.
During those two years, from when my first novel was released to today, on the eve of my second novel’s publication date (The Valley—November 15, 2016), I stand appreciative of the opportunity I’ve been given. On a daily basis, I remind myself of the fact that somewhere out in the wide world is a person I’ve never met, and on their bookshelf is a book that I wrote. I remind myself that someone I will never know will open The Valley and immerse themselves in the strange world that lived within my head for years before I put it on paper. I remind myself that my thoughts have been added to that brilliantly beautiful and expansive world of literature so that one day, long after I’ve died, some kid will pick up a book called A Murder Country or The Valley and become lost within the words, and that someday that kid will come to know the world of literature for himself.
Writing as someone who has opened, read and enjoyed a preview edition of The Valley, I can attest to its being a beautiful and expansive piece of literature, a book I'd be proud to have on my bookshelf. Thank you Brandon, and thank you for visiting my blog.
Brandon Daily can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BrandonDaily38/
on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8179682.Brandon_Daily
on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Brandon-Daily/e/B00KC52GZ0/ (where you can find both books)
and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BrandonDaily38
Find out more about the Valley:
My review :
Find out more about the Valley:
My review :
A haunting prologue sets the reader up with questions and mysteries right from the start. Who is thed oddly unmoored mother Quinn? Who is dead--really? And who is the child? But readers are drawn beyond the questions, lyrically led to ponder the past and enter the Appalachian valley, “a place of ghost and pine, where magic plays through the land like children crossing a stream,” a place “made of stories: a place created on the miseries of the living.” There they meet the woman, the priest, the people, all evocatively described, mystically and vividly real.
There’s a sense of mist and shadows over this story—the mist of a morning run, an evening walk, hot water—the shadows of unknowing, and always the trees, like prison “bars keeping something out or keeping something in.” There’s a sense of contrast too, the black powder of the miner with the white of a junkie’s snort. And there’s music.
It’s easy to become lost in this slow languid tale, but the mystery of these people, interconnections, guilts and sorrows, will surely draw you on. A timeless story binds Cherokee past with present as the Great Spirit watches, as the white-masked demon kills. A mirror reflects the reader’s life and worries in other lives. And the whole is, like Adeline’s song, “A story to be felt by the ear and tasted by the skin.”
Disclosure: I read a pre-release version and thoroughly enjoyed it.