PROJECT FULLY FUNDED!!
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to this Kickstarter! I’m still a bit dazed by your generosity and enthusiasm, and the amazingness of what you’ve done probably won’t sink in fully until I hold the finished book in my hand and see all your names inside it. That’s how stunning you’ve been.
Most Kickstarters, when they hit their target, add stretch goals to encourage new backers. But I kind of threw everything and the kitchen sink at this to begin with (see the rewards). So all I’ll say is this:
Each new reader is still fantastic news. So if this novel appeals to you, please support it during this Kickstarter campaign. Any additional funds will be used to increase the print run of the book. And the more backers’ names printed in the final book, the more heartwarming a piece (for me, but I think also objectively) it will be.
In a post-civilisation society, a seeming utopia is thrown into upheaval when a new emotion - the next stage in humanity’s evolution - is unleashed. Its existence triggers a social revolution, and then, civil war…
After four years of monastic labour, including many evenings spent working after the ol’ 9-5, this story is 100% complete.
Perhaps surprisingly for a speculative-fiction novel, one of its seeds lay in the words of a 16th-century Japanese shogun. He claimed that humanity had seven emotions. While I don’t believe this is true, it did make me think that we seem to have a greater range of emotions than, for instance, a cat (existential angst, melancholy, hopes about our long-term future, etc).
And we certainly have a greater range of emotions than single-celled organisms, which is what humanity is supposed to have developed from. Therefore, we must have evolved emotions along the way, and it stands to reason that we could evolve more.
This hopefully thrilling, action-packed story is about what our next emotion, the 8th, could be, and how it could fundamentally restructure human life and societies.
Fingers crossed, this sounds like a novel concept. The idea of evolving new emotions is not something I’ve seen explored in speculative fiction before. As it’s a fairly flexible notion that could be taken in a lot of different directions, it could potentially even open up a new sub-category within the genre, that of ‘emotional speculation’.
But obviously, I’m getting ahead of myself. The darn thing’s not even published yet.
Here, the idea is simply the core high-concept in a narrative that I tried to make as fresh and gripping as possible.
This included coming up with an unfamiliar backdrop (a post-civilisation set centuries after the world’s economies have collapsed, where bartering and a sophisticated tribal network have replaced money, and where the principles of permaculture undergird the society’s physical layout); setting the story in an envisioned utopia, as opposed to the mass of dystopias that already crowd bookshop shelves; being experimental with the language to give the prose an unusual texture (due to their ancestry, the novel’s fictional society speak a mongrel tongue, and so bits of French, Armenian, and Lebanese Arabic are sprinkled throughout the dialogue, though not in a way that would obscure the general meaning for an English reader); and creating a chapter where typography is used in innovative fashion to better convey the feeling of a shared psychedelic experience.
There will even be a secret Easter egg on the book’s front cover, which will have a direct impact on one of the secondary threads of the narrative, and which will only become apparent to sharp-eyed readers after they’ve read the novel’s final chapter…
My point is, although I’d love for any and everyone to read this story, I particularly hope it finds readers who crave fiction that genuinely attempts something new… who want stuff that is experimental but accessible… and who want to try things that the publishing industry - which for financial reasons, is currently very conservative in its tastes - is unwilling to take a risk on.
I believe this is exactly the sort of thing that Kickstarter is designed to bring about.
THE PHYSICAL BOOK
Being a bibliophile - and having something of an emotional investment in the work - I want this book to be as beautiful as possible.
Something I can treasure, and which will be a gorgeous addition to your bookshelf as well.
For that reason, I’ve expended as much care, attention to detail, and thought upon its design as I did upon the narrative itself. (Proportionally, you understand; I haven’t spent another four years deciding what font I want the blurb to be.)
The artist illustrating the cover is the superb Victoria Stothard. Not only a producer of stunning, psychedelically vibrant, and highly-textured paintings, she was also the winner of The One Show’s competition to create a garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.
Fantastic stuff, right?
On top of that, the book will include not one, but TWO black-and-white maps of the novel’s fictional society of Karthalia. Why two, you ask? Oh reader, that’d be telling.
Safe to say, though, it ties into a dramatic turning-point in the novel, and both the maps should look great.
The book will be printed by top professional printers Clays, who have printed probably half the books at your local bookshop, including David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’, J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’, and plenty of other titles for Penguin Random House, HarperCollins and Walker Books, among others.
Its interior and exterior typography will be handled by Clays’ trusted associates at a company called Born.
From the cover design to the typesetting and font, from the maps to even the colour and opacity of the book’s pages, I’ve already done my research to make sure the novel will look at least the equal of - but hopefully superior to - the vast majority of books put out by the big publishers.
But unlike their books, this is something you can personally help bring into existence - and, among plenty of other cool rewards, have your name permanently memorialised within its pages as a result.
I’ve tried to come up with as many exciting rewards as possible: not only is there a chance to have your name in the book, but there are also peeks into the creative process (see the ‘Annotated Editions’), high-quality limited edition prints, and even a chance to own this original, one-of-a-kind painting by Vicky Stothard, created especially for this Kickstarter:
One-to-one creative writing sessions are also available, where I’ll be happy to talk about any aspect of fiction; for instance, if you’re daunted by the prospect of planning and structuring something as large as a novel, then I’ll show you in full detail the method that I used, and which I learnt during my MA in Creative Writing at the University of Warwick, where I studied under such fêted writers as China Miéville, Maureen Freely, and Will Eaves.
Plus, lending his sui generis, medieval-inflected artwork to the project is the outstanding Alan Ashworth Muñoz.
You can see numerous examples of his work here: https://www.alanashworthmunozillustration.com
Joining him is the stellar tattoo-designer and all-round artist extraordinaire Niamh Keenan, a beautiful example of whose lyric and hand-drawn art is just below.
You can view more of her work here: http://www.pictame.com/user/skygardenstudio/2077006430
Both Niamh and Alan will be producing original pieces EXCLUSIVELY for this Kickstarter.
(Unfortunately, I can’t put up any photos of the postcards, prints, or T-shirts they’re offering, because they haven’t been made yet, and won’t be unless backers chip in for them. But that’s part of what Kickstarter’s about: funding things and thereby enabling creators to spend their time and energy producing them. Nonetheless, I think the artists’ previous work speaks for the kind of quality you can expect.)
Please check out the sidebar to see all of the other rewards that are on offer, as well as full descriptions of the ones I’ve mentioned here.
Shipping includes the cost of manufacturing the rewards, shipping them to me (so I can suitably prepare them for backers) and the cost of finally posting them on to you. Therefore, the amount you pledge - excluding these postage fees - is the exact amount you’re contributing to the creation of The Eighth Emotion. I feel this keeps things more transparent, and easier to calculate.
I’ve also, if anything, overestimated the delivery dates, to avoid any disappointment for backers, and to enable me - for the sake of sanity/logistical simplicity - to send out everything at once.
And if you have an idea for something you would like added to the reward scheme, then please don’t hesitate to send me a message, and I’ll see what I can do.
WHAT WE IN THE BUSINESS CALL ‘AN EXTRACT’
Now, I think it’s about time I showed you an extract from the novel itself. The story, after all, is the most important thing.
So below is the majority of Chapter 4. I’ve selected this section not because chapters 1-3 are dire and unpublishable, but because this fragment works well as a self-contained unit, and because it is also the first time the reader is introduced to Oceanos - the name of the 8th Emotion - in a visceral way.
(As I’ve put the extract in italics to distinguish it from the rest of this Kickstarter page, the italics in the manuscript are now in bold, to ensure they’re easily visible.)
I hope you like it:
In a tribdwell situated in Karthalia, but beyond the boundary of any tribe - like some exiled building - Pavneet worked frantically.
Night-time candles glowed on his desk, while a cooking fire burned in the corner of his tribdwell's main room. The smell of acidic chemicals singed the warm air, emanating from the beaker of green liquid that sat on his desk.
Taking yet another sheet of paper, Pavneet scrawled more notes, his eyes – behind his brass-rimmed glasses – in a trance-like state. He wore a long, stained jacket which he used as a makeshift lab coat. Above his greying temples, his craggily-lined forehead was furrowed in intense concentration. His World had contracted to the sheet of paper that lay before him, so much so that he hadn't noticed that Bastian, his sandy-coloured dog, was barking in agitation and fear.
Two strident door-knocks resounded through the room. Cowering, Bastian fell silent, before leaning forward and barking with even more aggression.
Pavneet, frozen still, stared over the rim of his glasses, at the front door that lay directly ahead of him. No one had knocked on that door in years. Cautiously, he rose from his wooden chair, and started to shuffle around his desk.
Then with frightening suddenness, something shattered loudly. Pavneet instinctively ducked, snapping his gaze in the direction of the noise. Any last dregs of his trance-state were gone. The real World had come roaring in, flooding his alert mind with intense, vivid impressions. From beneath Bastian's deafening barking, he heard, with acute sensitivity, a dull and solid thud strike the floorboards somewhere nearby. Then he saw that the single window in the left-hand wall was smashed open. And framed within its new jags of glass, which were like a jaw of predatory, vitreous teeth, a balaclavaed face stared back at Pavneet.
"Shut that dog up!" the balaclavaed man hissed. Then, with menacing slowness, he raised a lit candle into view. "Or we'll blaze this place to the ground."
In a state of shock, Pavneet whispered: "Sh-shush boy. Shush." Bastian fell silent.
"Good," the balaclavaed man said, and Pavneet could practically hear the smirk in his voice. "Now - open the door."
An enormous fear gripped Pavneet, rattling his heart in its gigantic grip. Please, he thought. Oh please, don't let them hurt me...
With a trembling hand, he unlocked the door, and pulled it toward him.
Two imposing men, balaclavaed like the one at the window, stood before him. One held a knife, its sharp point only an inch away from Pavneet's gut.
"Get inside," the man with the blade said. Within the holes of the man's balaclava, Pavneet saw tiny, gloating, and vicious eyes. Silently, just enough to prod the flesh without cutting it, the man jabbed the knife into Pavneet's stomach.
"W-what do you want?" Pavneet mumbled, fearfully stepping backwards toward his desk. He couldn't believe a stranger was attacking him. Such a thing had been known to happen in other lands, in other times, but never in Karthalia. It was a peaceful place. "P-please. I'll give you anything."
"We already know that," the man carrying the blade said, speaking with a twisted and gleeful sense of power.
He forced Pavneet back into the chair by the desk. Half-collapsing into it, Pavneet rubbed Bastian's neck with trembling hands, as if he were trying to soothe his beloved companion, when it must have been obvious that it was simply a nervous expression of his own terror. Bastian growled, baring his teeth.
"E-easy, boy" Pavneet whispered. "Shhh."
The other two intruders seemed subservient to the man with the blade. Both were now searching Pavneet's tribdwell, one rifling through the sheafs of pamphlets and notepaper which Pavneet, to get them out of his way, had piled up around the edges of the room; the other, taller one standing nearby, inspecting the notes in the drawers of Pavneet's desk. It was obvious that neither was finding what they were looking for.
The man carrying the blade spoke, still holding the knife just in front of Pavneet's chest: "You're not a liar, are you Pavneet?"
"So this is true?" ‘Blade’ withdrew from his pocket a scrunched-up piece of paper. He flattened it out on the top of the desk, before showing it to Pavneet. With a gut-wrenching sense of horror, Pavneet recognised it at once. The page had been ripped out from the last scientific pamphlet he'd written, published only a week ago.
The chain of reasoning Pavneet had expounded in the pamphlet flashed into his mind, fierce and white-hot like burning magnesium:
1. Single-celled organisms don't experience emotions, or if they do, they experience very little.
2. Humans evolved from single-celled organisms.
3. Humans experience emotions.
4. Thus, humans must have evolved emotions.
Then came the main part of Pavneet's article. He'd claimed that he knew how to unlock humanity's next emotion, so that it could become a permanent part of anyone who wanted it. What's more, he'd said that when everyone possessed it, it would end all human conflict, equalising everyone profoundly, and ushering in a true paradise.
For now, though – he'd ended his article – he needed to do more testing, to check that what he'd discovered was safe. But in the next pamphlet he released, he would explain how people could tap into this emotion for themselves.
This memory of what he'd written hit Pavneet with the force of a tempest, and then, following close behind, realisation stabbed through him: these men were searching for proof that he really could unlock this next emotion. Why? He had no idea. But if they found it, he knew they'd have no reason to keep him alive.
"I lied," Pavneet blurted. "I just did it to sell the next issue. I'm alone, my income, it's all through trading these pamph—"
Out of nowhere, Blade's knife-gripping fist smashed into Pavneet's cheek, knocking him into his desk and rattling the container of chemicals that sat on top of it. Bastian barked ferociously, but Pavneet retained his terrified, white-knuckled grip on the dog's collar. As he gasped from the blow, Pavneet could almost feel ‘Blade’ grinning at him sadistically from behind his balaclava.
"Give me a reason to do that again," ‘Blade’ said.
Then one of the other men came over to 'Blade', pointing at something on a piece of paper.
They've got it, Pavneet thought, a cold thrill of terror running though him, shifting the hyper-real present into even sharper focus. He felt upon his back the heat from the cooking fire in the corner. Saw the fire's light gleaming upon the knife, as if the blade shone with its own golden, vicious soul. An inchoate, instinctual plan was forming in his mind.
With regret, he remembered how – on the day of his breakthrough – he had told himself that he would never again inflict any type of injury on another human being. A sort of premonitory sympathy pain shot through him: he understood the agony these men might be about to suffer. And there was something still worse...
He looked at Bastian with sorrow.
‘Blade’ stared at the piece of paper, his eyes widening in a look of quiet awe. All humour had dropped out of his voice: "So you really can do it."
And with that, Pavneet's decision was made.
With his right hand, he shoved Bastian forward and released the dog's collar. "Go!" he shouted, and Bastian leapt upon ‘Blade’, slobbering fangs barking and snapping. Spinning round, Pavneet snatched up the container of chemicals and threw it at the cooking fire. A blaze exploded upwards, blasting a wave of searing heat over Pavneet's face. Everything became confusion and clamour. Fire-tongues gobbled ravenously at floorboards and terracotta walls, vomiting black smoke. Pavneet bolted across the room, past the indistinct shapes of his attackers, through a haze of barking, swearing, and shouts. Leaping, he hauled himself up to the smashed-in window, his adrenaline making him oblivious to the jags of glass that were slicing open his forearms.
Then, through the whirlwind of smoke and shouts, there cut a sharp, canine yelp. For a moment, Pavneet froze. Tears brimmed in his eyes. Blood poured out of his arms. He wanted to look back, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Struggling over the knives of glass that jutted up below him, he toppled out the window's other side, landing with a thump on the soil and vegetables below.
Gasping for breath, he hauled himself to his feet, and ran, trampling vegetables, fruit, and grass, sprinting alongside the winding River Menignus. The reek of sulphur burned in his nostrils, beneath a clear, starry sky.
Who were those men? Why were they after him? He didn't know. And that meant he couldn't trust anyone.
Still running, he tried to ignore his screaming desire to go back, even as tears ran down his cheeks. Bastian... it was Pavneet's fault. And it was too late for him to do anything about it.
And as he ran, Pavneet also imagined that gang of men, amongst the fiery confusion, enduring an emotion they'd never felt before... enduring Oceanos, as the flames ate through the scientific specimens stored in his bedroom, and released their psychotropic vapours into the air.
WHAT’S THE MONEY FOR?
The funds I’m trying to raise are not for any personal profit. They will all go towards the creation of the book (although I have erred on slightly overestimating the costs, to give myself a safety cushion should any unexpected hiccups arise).
Here’s a breakdown of where the money will go - and I’m lucky that several of my collaborators have offered to work at a discounted rate for this project:
£400 will pay for the original painting that will form the novel’s cover
£460.80 will pay for the novel’s interior typesetting, so it is done to a professional standard
£275.85 will pay for 100 copies of the paperback from the printers
£220 to pay for the two interior maps of the story’s setting
£220 will cover Kickstarter’s 5% fee for any successful projects, as well as their payment processing fee
£150 will pay for the typographical design of the front and back covers (title, author name, blurb, etc.)
£140 will pay for the ISBNs of the paperback and e-book
£120 will pay for the proofreading
£70 to photograph the cover painting in high-definition in a professional studio, and thereby ensure the book’s front cover is of a suitably impressive standard
£50 for the manuscript to be converted into an e-book
£45 for a cover proof from the printers
£20 for two cover proofs from the typographical designer
£16 will cover the payment for the translators
I thought it might be worth answering this question, for any readers who particularly like the deluxe feel of a hardback book.
Basically, from my time working in a bookshop, I know that a lot of customers would rather wait for the paperback version of a novel. This is not just because it’s cheaper: it’s also so they’ll have a physical edition that’s easier to carry around and read on the move.
Moreover, paperbacks will keep shipping costs for this project’s backers to a minimum. And logistically, it’s far simpler - and more affordable - for me to produce one physical edition of the novel, rather than do both hardbacks and paperbacks.
With the above in mind, and considering that my main hope with The 8th Emotion is that as many people read it as possible, paperback seems like the smarter option.
And as this paperback will be done in matt laminate, in the manner of Vintage or Penguin Classics, its design will hopefully have a similar timeless appeal to it.
Below is a timeline for the project. If it seems leisurely in any way, that’s because I’d much rather underpromise and overdeliver than the reverse. (A bit of me hopes the books will be sent out significantly earlier than I suggest here):
- The translation of the relevant parts into French, Armenian, or Lebanese Arabic
- The cover painting (hopefully, I’ll be able to upload an image of it in the next few days)
- The ISBNs will be purchased
- The novel will be proofread, and any relevant changes made
- The postcards and prints will be designed
- The T-shirts will be designed
- The maps will be completed
- Internal typography and subsequent final proofreading will be completed
- Front and back cover typography will be completed
- The postcards, prints, and T-shirts will be produced
- The physical books will be printed
- [A month leeway to compensate for any unexpected problems]
- The printed copies of the book will finally be sent out to backers! All physical rewards will be shipped at the same time, so your items arrive together
- The e-book will be sent to backers
- The public book launch will take place
- I’ll celebrate in that rarest of all manners, by fusing cheapness with extravagance - like having an ice lolly in a hot bubble bath. Or something.
ONE LAST EXCITING THING
I know, I know - I’m cruel. By now, you’re probably frothing at the mouth, shaking the screen like it’s a disobedient child and screaming: “BUT WHERE WILL THE BOOK LAUNCH BE HELD?!”
Reader, calm yourself. You’re starting to cause a scene.
I’m happy to reveal that the book launch will take place in the beautiful independent bookshop, ‘South Kensington Books’ (based in London, right next to the South Kensington tube stop).
Disclaimer - this is also where I work.
Once it’s published, the novel will also be available from most online outlets, and from brick-and-mortar bookshops such as ‘Waterstones’.
However, this is your one chance to help in its creation; have yourself permanently credited at the back so your name could be in bookshops around the world; and gain limited edition items connected with the story.
It would be amazing to have your support.
Risks and challenges
As I said earlier, the story is 100% complete, so there will be no problems there.
Even though I’ve tried to overestimate the time needed at every part of the process - so in an ideal world, you’ll receive your items considerably ahead of schedule - life does throw madness-inducing curveballs. And I’m not curveball-proof. So there’s always at least a limited risk of that. Nonetheless, pretty much everything and everyone is in place, ready to go, so I’m confident things should run relatively smoothly.
Beyond that, bar any unexpected company bankruptcies, or my own surprise demise - which will at minimum put a kink in the plan - it should all come together as intended.
(Although I’m almost baiting fate to intervene here, aren’t I?)
Rest assured, if any delays do happen, I will keep in touch with backers so you’ll know exactly what’s going on.
And remember - Kickstarter operates in an all-or-nothing fashion. So if you contribute towards this project, but I don’t hit my target of £2,200, absolutely no money will be taken from your account. This way, you have peace of mind knowing that - should the campaign be successful, and your payment to this project is therefore completed - I will have the finances to fulfil everything I’ve offered.
N.B.: This is stated in the relevant pledge, but to emphasise — the e-book won’t have the maps of the printed edition. However, the story will still be perfectly easy to follow, so don’t worry about that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)