Go Back To Start, at 300,000 words, is the longest novel which I have ever written. As a rule I prefer the wit of brevity to unending length. But, for this particular story, it was necessary to use that many words to tell the tale.
All stories have a natural length. My novel tells the story of a person’s life – or, rather, a person living his life over. The protagonist has been the chance of living his life over a second time, and trying to correct all of the mistakes which he made the first time round. That is, very basically, the plot of the novel.
I doubt if I will write another novel as long as this one. But I suppose that is not impossible, if I find a tale which needs so many words.
As a consumer of literature I usually avoid novels which are so long. One reason is that, since my breakdown, I have had problems concentrating, and it takes forever to finish a five hundred page novel if, because your concentration goes, you end up having to read the same page three times over. I have read War and Peace, but it was well before my breakdown. I don’t think that I could manage it now.
Extract from Go Back To Start
My life had not flashed before my eyes. But I still suspected that I might be dead. It was the appearance of the scythe-equipped skeleton in the black robes which was a big giveaway. I think that you can take that as always being a sign of your imminent demise.
This was no Hollywood Death, all special effects and booming, evil voice. This was no droll, cocktail-sipping Pratchett death, with horse called Binky. No, this was ugly, medieval woodcut death, blocky and rough around the edges. Little in the way of details, but he still was never going to be mistaken for anything else. However badly the bones were etched it was still clearly death.
I pleaded. I begged. I did not want to die, or to be taken by Death to whatever place he wanted to take me. I was only eighty years old. That was no longer even an average age at which to die. I should have had at least another five years. I might have had more than another twenty.
That did not change the fact that I was in my bed – my death bed – and that I appeared to have died during the night. I knew that it had to happen eventually. But I’m not ready. I’m not ready yet.
I suspected that if death really did exist in anthropomorphic form then I might have to re-examine my own views on the existence of Hades. I did not like the possible answers to such a line of enquiry. If there was Death, then there might be the Devil.
I wanted my life back. It was only now, on the moment of my death, that I realised how I had wasted my entire life. If I had been able to go through my life with the knowledge which I had now… well, I think that I said that it would have been very different, that I wouldn’t have made all those stupid mistakes, that my life would not have ended up being wasted. I pleaded with death to let me have my life over, with the knowledge which I now possessed. And you know what? He granted me my wish.
Go Back To Start is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.