I wonder if I could persuade you to invest in a ghost?
He began as a fictional character in a fantasy role play scenario I was writing -- a dark Egyptian wizard I named Nectanebo. But when I went to research Ancient Egypt for some background, things got weird. The first discovery I made was that there was, or had been, a real life Nectanebo. Indeed, there were two of them, uncle and nephew, but the one that matched my wizard was Nectanebo II. He was Egypt’s last native pharaoh. He had a fearsome reputation as a sorcerer. He was power hungry and seized the throne by force.
It’s easy to argue what might have happened here. I’d long had an interest in Ancient Egypt and read a good many books on the subject. Maybe I’d read about Nectanebo at some stage, forgotten all about him, then dredged him out of my unconscious when I started to write my scenario.
Could be, but it didn’t feel like that. It felt like the real Nectanebo’s ghost had somehow crawled into my head. And having crawled, wouldn’t get out. Nectanebo wanted his story written: not just the little role play scenario I’d planned, but a proper full-length book that would bring his name before the modern world.
He nagged and nagged at me to write it. For weeks, then months I couldn’t think of anything else. Eventually I gave in, put aside my other work and started on a biography of Nectanebo.
Well, I ran into trouble right away. Very little was known then about the historical Nectanebo. My research turned up the barest outlines of his life, running only to a few paragraphs. Try as I might, I couldn’t find anything else. But Nectanebo still insisted I tell his story. The only way I could do that was in the form of a novel. So I started to write one called The Chronicles of Nectanebo. It went like a charm. It was as if the old Pharaoh was dictating it to me.
My literary agent at the time was Murray Pollinger. After a few refusals, he found me a publisher. We signed a contract and the publisher promptly went bust. Murray took the manuscript out again and before long it had been declined by every major publisher in Britain. I decided the story wasn’t commercial enough and rewrote it completely with a modern twist. Murray went out with it again, but without success. So I rewrote it again.
I’d had forty or fifty books published by this time and that sort of rewriting was just something I didn’t do. But Nectanebo kept pushing me. We offered the manuscript in America and still nobody wanted it. Murray eventually retired and my new agent, Sophie Hicks, took on the job. Several publishers made nice comments about the writing and plot. One said it would make a great movie. But none was prepared to publish it.
Around the turn of the millennium, I managed to break free of Nectanebo while I wrote my Faerie Wars novels (which made the New York Times best-seller list) but a few weeks ago he was back with a vengeance, still demanding, still insisting. I’ve been interested in psychical research all my life and I know a haunting when I see one. The only way I’m going to get this old Pharaoh off my back is to publish his story myself.
Which is where you can help.
I now have the novel rewritten for the sixth time and retitled Traveller from an Antique Land. It’s in the form of a science fiction thriller set in the modern day, but with Nectanebo’s fictional (channelled?) biography threaded through it. Anything you donate towards its publication will earn you my gratitude. Nectanebo’s too, if I’m not mistaken.
But there's only a limited time to get involved. So please make your pledge NOW before you get distracted.
Risks and challenges
The final manuscript is already written and ready for editing. If I can get the funding, I plan to hand it over to an American self publishing company called BookBaby and let them take it from there. I’ve been on their mailing list for a year or two and their promotional material has impressed me greatly, mainly because they clearly have a grasp of the real problems and trials writers face today. They tell me they can even get involved in rewards fulfilment if that gets tricky.
(Having said that, I don’t foresee problems in this area since my wife had the idea of offering a copy of the original manuscript as the main reward and delivering it electronically by email.)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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