Sunday, March 19, 2017

An Experiment in Publishing

"The singularity herself, from which all sprang, demonstrates that nothing is impossible."
The Excavations

Sometime in the 1980s, my friend and cousin, Ian Roberts (actor and front man of the Radio Kalahari Orkes) visited my half-brother, Lochart Whyle,in Botswana. Ian borrowed a  4×4 from Lochart and traveled into the desert. He met a group of San bushmen and shared some adventures with them. On his return to Johannesburg, Ian wrote for seven days and seven nights and then he brought me what he had written. It was called Dig and was aimed at the screen, but it looked to me like a book. Dig was the story of the end of the world, a tale so strange and shocking that it has been whispering to me, as it has to Ian, ever since. Over the years we have written it, separately and together, in various forms. In 2013, with Ian's permission, I wrote it as a novel, The Excavations.

  In 2014 Jacana, who published The Book of War and Walk, agreed to publish The  Excavations. Then Maggie Davey "left the building for a time" and I became despondent and a little arrogant. With the contract ready to be signed, I took the novel to Umuzi where Fourie Botha was interested but unable to fly its outrages past his committee. Jacana were, justifiably, not happy with me. The project was dead, and I shifted gear from arrogance to despond. At the end of 2015 I bumped into Maggie Davey at an art exhibition. She was back at Jacana. I told her I had not found a publisher. For a time the "wonderfully strong and completely captivating" book was under consideration again. But fate was only flirting. Jacana's second answer, couched in the kindest terms, was no.

This is the age of Trump, however. The climate is changing, nothing is impossible, and there's a whiff of extinction in the air. The Excavations  will be available, on Kindle only, at a bargain basement price, from Tuesday the 21st of March.    

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