Operation Concrete


So, I’m in a comfortable enough place now to reveal – without sounding too pretentious – the workings of the next novel and what I want to achieve with it.

Whilst my work with Concrete Operational is still in full swing, I really needed to start writing again, so I have, and I expect I'll be blogging quite a bit about the creative journey over the next 8 months from now, through the course of revisions, through to project crowd sourcing and eventual launch.

So, in Novemeber 2008 I completed National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo – which was truly a great experience, lots of fun and actually brought about the workings of the next novel. I managed to pen 50,000 words in 30 days, and eventually finished the novel on 65,000 words about 3 weeks later. It was called ‘Tastes Like Copper’ and was a menagerie of Ghosts, Vampires, Zombies, genetically engineered super soldiers, ultra soldiers, science and fiction and it was brilliant fun writing it.

However, the concept didn’t know which direction it wanted to go in, as I was writing I got swept away in making it a massive, Hollywood-esque collection of battles and bravery and bravado, but I ended it in a terribly sad and out of character way. I wanted some epic sci-fi, the sort that I enjoy reading and watching so much in books like Forever War and Aliens, but I also wanted to keep the humanity and desolation and tragedy and horror of being up against insurmountable odds, and being faced with almost certain death, like in The Road, or Slaughterhouse Five.

So, I knew I wanted to do something with the manuscript, but how to tread the line between grandiose operatic fiction, and personal, tragic and exploratory fiction, was unknown to me. I also wanted to ensure that in writing the novel, there was the definite possibility of creating a collaborative project around it, such as that with Concrete Operational. About six months of thinking, procrastinating, drinking and note taking and I’ve finally cracked it.

The novel is changing, its new title is ‘The Trial of Gravity’ and it is structured into five stages, each with a unique trial that we all face at one point in our lives. The chapter structure is as follows:

The trial of life

01 - they came

02 - we hide

03 - we change

The trial of battle

04 - they feed

05 - we hope

06 - we fight

The trial of death

07 - they live

08 - we crumble

09 - we push

The trial of the unknown

10 - they reveal

11 - we meet

12 - we destroy

The trial of separation

13 – revenge

14 – honor

15 – family

16 – freedom

Though this structure, the novel will be taking a much darker and sinister turn. There will still be a reasonable helping of epic battles between super soldiers and vampires, and ghosts and things, but I’m going to really try and explore why people struggle to survive and stay alive in the face of almost certain death.

Each stage explores a different facet of the human condition, putting humans against ever increasing odds, seemingly unwinnable situations and peril filled arenas of terror and anguish, until the penultimate trial, that of the unknown, explores how not knowing is often the hardest trial we will ever face. The trial of separation will conclude the novel with the lead characters trying to find their way back to the reasons why they were fighting in the first place, to see if it still exists.

I’m really excited about the whole thing, and I can’t wait to get stuck into the production of another collaborative media project, I think the trials themselves with an open brief will provide great fodder for people to create music, art, photos, film, etc, to it. I really want to go to the wall with this one and see what insight into us all we can create.

Check back for snippets, questions, answers, and much more over the coming months.