Light of The White Bear
An animal epic about polar bears, science, faith and Man, set in the wilds of the arctic. Can Uteq save the planet with his black paw?
WELL, WE DID IT! Not 100% but a brilliant team, (still time to come aboard), great ideas and a continuing journey...."It's not just a project, it's a story". Thanks to you all, in person on film today, and to Kickstarter too for polishing up one film with a nice caption. Please digi-shred all the rest! I also think that model is right, of no money being released unless a specific target is reached.
Listen cubs, gather round and listen. It was told at a time of great darkness and of fear, told in the Long Night, to warm the heart and calm the hot, beating blood, and keep many a polar bear cub happy and safe in their frosty birthing dens. And what was it called, this strange, impossible story....? (The epilogue to Scream of The White Bear)
PART ONE - THE GREAT SOUND
ONE – SLAYERS AND STORYTELLERS “God created man in order to tell stories.”—Hasidic saying
The scurrying arctic blizzard was over, for a while, and in the enormous white silences settling suddenly, like a sigh, across the huge, frozen expanses of sea ice, here, high above the Arctic Circle, a savage cry cut the winter night—“Aooooooow”. It was the lonely song of the wild wolf. The searching howl seemed to quiver into form on the air, as if the call itself had turned to eerie colored lights, flickering brilliantly across the great black canvas of moon-clad night. A glowing astral pathway rose in the winter cold, like billowing curls of blue-green smoke, sweeping off the ice and up into the air in a drifting arc around the moon, the Pole Star, and the great constellation hanging in the heavens, that men in wondering, mythical days knew as Arktus, the Greek word for a bear.
The Aurora Borealis, the language of science calls the strange astral lights, although the Sioux Indians believe they are the spirits of unborn children, and some Inuit, the ghosts of their dead ancestors: phantoms, swirling in the skies. Closer to their freezing world, the Eskimo claim the famous Northern Lights as favorite beasts: caribou, whale, or dancing salmon. But the Lera, the wild animals of the earth, truly know, and so they call them the Beqorn - “those that bite with their teeth.” If the language of science is to interpret them, in truth the magical display is caused by the sun’s superheated flares, bursting in outer space, sending out the solar winds through the void, that charge unseen particles in our upper atmosphere, making them swirl and flow toward magnetic north. Yet, as the lonely wolf howl came again, calling out in nature’s most primitive tongue, the ice seemed alive with a real magic this deep winter night—a storyteller’s magic...
It all ends with a flight across the ice, polar bears chased by Ice Slayers, aided by all the animals, on land and in the water. Then a great battle with the evil Glawnaq and a union of belief and science to bring the magical turn around, beneath those dancing lights...
Light of the White Bear, now renamed prior to editing and publication, tells the story of a Polar Bear cub, Uteq, born with a black paw, to save the planet and face a near impossible destiny. Set in the frozen wastes of the arctic it introduces lovers of David's fiction to a whole new caste of fantastic characters, on land and under the water, including battling musk oxen, arctic foxes, sharks, killer whales, narwhals and the most dangerous animal of them all, the Gurgai, Man.
It is also part of the story of Phoenix Ark Press, which those who've followed a four year blog know about, created single handed from a flat in London (don't mention Barton Fink!) and with no funding. The first purpose of this project to to unblock a voice and get out an epic book properly, which is what really interests a constituency of fans. But for those who are interested in platforms and business models Phoenix has a very steady following, with total visits since its founding in late 2010 being 48, 974 and the best year being 2011 with 18, 632. It was initially used to try and get considerable business funding, but a writer on his own was considered less convincing than that classic 'tripod' of three people engaged. If this works David will try and move away from the role of Journalist, travel writer, critic or blogger, back to author and bring in others too.
David first fought at Phoenix to try and speak, as his own US Publisher breached contracts, held up his work for years, bullied and simply stole away a voice and livelihood that he had fought for and earned over many years. It became totally inhuman, especially in a world of art, books and fairy tales! He gave out poetry, cultural articles, travel pieces and blogs for free, published work to ebook and tried to address the harm and disconnections of the internet too. So he always resisted advertising there and complained when Wordpress tried to ride a modest success by putting up their own advertising.
It became something of an obsession, the right to speak with truth and depth, and he branded it the 'storyteller's publisher' and joined the IPG. It has had many plaudits, on basic style but more especially overall interest, originality and content. On the other hand as a one man band and crusade, from a little flat in London, it became a little obsessive, because he found he is not a business man first and had little interest or talent in the sell. So another thing he will do if this works is bring in others to help. It is a fine thing to be a highly praised author, it is also quite pointless in life trying to do anything alone.
At the same time there is a spirit of defiance at Phoenix, named after the fiery, mythic bird but also that Ark of protection, that is essential and It's energy came much from the support of fans and real readers, out of the most terrible personal and professional crisis in New York, involving personal relationships, bad friends and cyncial editors interested only in power, alongside an author's determination not to be muzzled, or run over by internal politics or that sense of overmighty power, that is at times a considerable challenge to free speech and not least in the US. That was a thing he could not accept in America, where Scream of the White Bear was billed as the breakthrough novel, that he should be muzzled by big business when they held his career in their hands, involving five novels and striking right at the root of creativity too. In the way publishing contracts are written, and especially as a 'foreigner' there is little or no legal protection for writers. Imagine your favourite author, in the very act of writing, trying to work with a shotgun at their head.
So to back an epic novel is its own project, but means you would also be able to share that adventure in blogging, poetry, publishing, travel and cultural articles too, in fact in independence and I hope simultaneously widen a community of engagement and quality.
THREE DAYS to turn the world around!
The novel itself is nearly ready, once called Scream of the White Bear, but needs swift re-editing, to take out 100 pages, then new cover design, since the one you see is not in copyright, layout and so on, to take it both to ebook and to hard copy print publishing. It will simultaneously help to re-launch Phoenix Ark Press as a little phenomenon, but dealing not just in online work and ebooks but old fashioned hands on books, that are personalities in themselves. You will also be kickstarting many other great projects, including non fiction work on Edmund Shakespeare and London, William's unknown youngest brother and a player too, the blogged story Dragon in the Post and a scientific 1066 and All That! David's editor in New York, now Vice President of a firm, once described him as the most prolific author she had ever met and it is his creativity that is behind it.
Risks and challenges
The challenge of just one book, as opposed to supporting and Kickstarting Phoenix too is first that final challenge of editorial, to shorten a complex epic, but for this writer that has always been about passion and energy in the final re-write, as the magic comes together. The real mirror to an author is his sense of contact with the reader, that broke in a long fight with his New York publisher. Then to get layout and copy editing done, find a beautiful cover design and publish!
In one sense there is no serious challenge, as this can come out, at the very least to ebook in 2014. But both the author and readers deserve far more than that, in a world of e-junk and failing bookshops, while the book itself will help redefine a business model for Phoenix Ark Press too, itself a kind of story. So a further risk and challenge is to get the right hard copy publishing package, which means the printer, and price, then take it properly both to you and the public. Books deserve to be more than just online, however old fashioned that seems.
The money is not that much to keep an author in t-bags for three months, but also pay properly for an artist, copy editing and the right printing.The more pledges of course the more can be spent on printing, paper quality and design. The best model for printing is probably POD with an Independent, both in terms of quality control but also publishing first to hard back, Amazon models do not allow.
Long ago models for publishing and selling several novels beyond ebooks were explored in costings both via independent and Amazon platforms, basically POD, Publishing on Demand. Meanwhile as a business Phoenix ticks long on the royalties from ebooks of David's successful novels which he fought to take back from Abrams, Penguin in the US and Macmillan in the UK, again not allowing them to control his work. It seems obvious then that 'spreading the word' on another novel and finding many backers would be far better than very big pledges (except with a need for a little kickstarting the Kickstarting!) because the success of that would already guarantee something of the success of just one book and help an author to get back his voice. That voice and spirit is rather important to this project. But one of the big challenges is getting the novel into America, not least because Light of the White Bear (or Scream!) was described as the break through book there for David. So David has also started to talk to contacts in America again about publishing and distribution there.
In that vein and out of comments from fans, David thinks Phoenix Ark should be specifically remodelled using his name and fan base and pioneering a way in what he did best, animal fantasy, but also specialising in environmental story, wildlife and associated politics. The problem with that fan base is that younger readers do not tend to have the inclination or money to back things like Kickstarter. On the other hand many have grown up with David's books and people might look at some of the comments on 'The Beginning' page at Phoenix. If the story of evolutionary nature is 'adapt and survive', but also understand not so much a fight but biospheres, it is time Phoenix adapted too.
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- (30 days)