[Consider skipping this post if you haven’t read Psychic Awakening.]
Nathaniel Jones almost ended up in the waste-paper basket. The story of Peter’s alter ego, whilst adding colour and depth, doesn’t provide any significant impetus to the main story. It could have been cut entirely and I could have met my goal of slimming the bloated first edition down to 150,000 words.
Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to eliminate Nathaniel entirely. What I did eliminate was how he made his entrance.
When Peter and Megan are making their midnight escape from Prague, driving down dark country roads in Peter’s Skoda, Peter makes several evasive manoeuvres to shake off a possible tail. Megan’s surprised and asks him why he knows so much about tradecraft. He admits that he did some background research on the subject for his fiction books. It’s at this point that he reveals he has two sides: a brilliant academic and a best-selling author. Once they get to the villa, Megan asks him more about his two careers, and the story melds with the existing discovery of Nathaniel Jones books in Peter’s library.
Maybe I felt bad about cutting the build-up to this particular story thread and compensated by adding a little information about Peter’s literary agent and his Stateside publicity.
Compared with most novels in this genre, there’s very little tell. The story is energised by dialogue and action. This made the work of editing that much harder. Cutting a few lines of dialogue resulted in the loss of hints and pointers to some of the inner workings of the characters’ minds.
It’s a personal thing. I don’t enjoy reading long omniscient narrator descriptions of personalities and the events that shaped them. I like stories that move along, even if it’s at the expense of detail.
In a future post I’d like to discuss some of the detail I left out of the novel, and if any readers feel short-changed by my inner or outer descriptions of characters, do let me know. I love getting feedback.