Get Your Glory Here!

by wjw on March 22, 2013


My first published novel, To Glory Arise, also known as The Privateer, is now available in electronic form at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.  From the latter it should migrate to Kobo, iBooks, Baker & Taylor, and other fine locations.

Reading the novel for the first time in over thirty years, I was impressed.  Impressed, that is, by how much I had left to learn.  To Glory Arise is, alas, by a substantial margin the weakest of my published works.  The Tern Schooner, which followed, is maybe 300% better, and Brig of War, the third, is a considerable improvement over the second.

To Glory Arise is not, y’know, awful or anything.  It gets the reader where it wants him to go.  There are just some rough spots along the way.

I had the impression, when I was writing the series, that the first book— or the way in which I chose to write it—  was a little too simple and straightforward.  My impression now is that it’s quite complex, but that I wasn’t quite up to handling the complexity.

This is, for one thing, the first book in a multi-volume family saga, and so I am at pains to introduce not just the whole family, but all their lieutenants and servants.  I was surprised at how much space I devoted to characters other than my protagonist, but then I was trying to build a wide, strong foundation for what promised to be a very large, complex literary edifice.  So there’s quite a bit of space for Jehu, the educated, sophisticated, rather affected older brother; and Josiah, the plain-spoken Puritan, gets his piece, too.  The point of view tends to wander, in a perfectly amiable way, from one character to the next.  It’s not unclear, but I’m not sure it’s necessary, either.  (Reader, don’t try this at home.)

The other books in the series have only a single point-of-view character, and are stronger for it.

And as long as I’m giving advice to the writers among you, here’s another: Don’t kill off your protagonist in the first book of a series.

Yes, I bump off the hero at the end.  It was a series about a family, you see, and there were other family members to pick up the slack.  I think I thought I was being daring with my tragic ending, and hoping the reader would say, “Ohmigod, how are they going to get over this?  Let me pick up the next volume and find out!”

Also, by that point I was finding my hero a trial.  Malachi, as opposed to the intellectual brother and the steady pious brother, is a kind of Wild Man of the Sea who operates on an instinctual level.  He fights battles, beds women, drinks himself comatose, and is otherwise a complete natural.  He’s Sensibility, leaving Sense to others in the family.  He’s a version of the kind of folk who found themselves as heroes in 19th century romances, a d’Artagnan of the sea, an Ivanhoe without the dullness, an Alan Quatermain without the virtue.

At some point I probably asked myself, “Well, how do these sorts of people turn out in real life?”

Not well.  At some point instinct lets them down, and they have nothing else to fall back on.  And really, I couldn’t see Malachi settling down in small-town New Hampshire and sitting on his laurels.  He’d keep daring until he lost, and that’s what happens to him in the book.

I’m a little nervous about putting this book back in circulation.  People will see it’s the first in the series, and read it first, and then might not progress on to the rest, which are better.

But I’m going to leave it available as a kind of lesson.  What I hope the book says is, Look how much better I got.  I got better because I worked hard and learned my lessons and never stopped writing.  So don’t you stop, either.

And that’s Rising to Glory, if you ask me.

Brian Renninger March 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

Don’t worry. It’s good enough.

In addition, I believe that for that genre people like a little meander. And, for me at least Malachi’s death did exactly what you planned — it drew me into the extended family plot.

–Brian R.

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