I am writing my 15th novel and it is called 'The Deck Scrbbers'. I shall now detail what happened to the 14 before that. Here's the first five.
1: SOME, IN FACT MOST PEOPLE ARE FUCKED. I wrote this when I was 20 and it was nothing more than an exaggerated diary entry. I mythologised myself for 250 pages. It was about the realtionship I was in (and how it ended), and it was truly awful. But, I re-read it recently and I'll give it this: It was unintenionally a perfect snapshot of the Melbourne late 80's- early 90's goth-punk music scene, (pre-Nirvana), and a reasonably well presented coming-of-age tale, seeing the young man dropout from uni, enter the workforce and try to juggle responsibility, flatmates, relationship, drug binges, writing poetry and all set to a cracking soundtrack. Writing it I didn't realise how much the music played a part in the book - it's only on the re-read it jumps out. The bands always got mentioned, the pubs, the albums... it's wonderful. And Melbourne itself comes out well... there's one scene set at a poetry reading (Squib - Eric Dando was a character in it). It's a nice snapshop of my life at that time, but it's not publishable.
2: UNDER THE FINGERNAILS OF BYRON'S ATHENIAN LEGACY. This was the exciting sequel to the first novel, but the mythology was ramped up. It was about 300 pages and details a year in Athens, Greece, but with added Greek gods running about. It mainly concerns my falling in love with Betty Lekkas from Pireaus (in the book I changed her name to Bessie Lekkas). It is an awful book, but still the same music angle plus sex and drugs and all that which makes it readable for me. The writing was better than in the first novel, but it's still unpublishable.
3: FROG IN TNE VELVET LOUNGE: From the previous novel I got the idea of a Greek God intercating with humans, and I took it further here. I wrote it first as a film script. I sent it to Jan Chapman who procued 'The Piano'. She read it, sent it back, congratulated me, and suggested I workshop the script with a theatre group, stage it as a play, then send it back to her. I approached a theatre group and they were keen, but two weeks later they went bankrupt and I gave up. So, I turned it into a novel instead (though I never quite finished it). It holds up well to this day and I should return to it some time. It concerns a young insurance clerk (me, disguised - I did a year at an insurance company) who wants to be a poet. He lives in a large share house in Fitzroy and all his flatmates are going away for the weekend and he has the house to himself. He can't wait.. he's going to write poetry all weekend. It opens on Friday night. He's at home burning all his old poems because they're shit, when three junkes break into his laundry and start stealing his clothes. He catches them. Rather than hand back the clothes, they ask him for money - he gives them $20 and they leave, taking his best jumper. He then turns that into a poem (though he calls them 'three monsters' in the poem) and recites the poem out in the street (at 1am). It wakes a neighbour, who yells, "Hey Picasso, shut the fuck up!". "It's okay," he says, "I'm a poet." The neighbour says, "Well juxtapose this you cunt!" and throws a rock at him. That's all in the first chapter and it is one of the greatest openings of any film or book ever. He wakes up the next day and the Goddess Athena (re-imagined as a punk chick) is in his bed. Madness ensues over the course of the weekend. It finishes on the Sunday night when he grows a dick. Literally. It's great.
4. OPIUM AND FALSETTO The third novel (above), all set in the one house over the course of one weekend, got me interested in cabin-fever a bit, and how a lot can happen in one weekend. This book was set over two years about a couple that never leaves the house. It opens and the man, Opium, is 20 years old and his lover, the violent and unhinged Falsetto, is 31 and married. The house is enormous... like, the size of a castle. It has 'wings', it's own zoo, observatory etc. The book opens with Falsetto beating up Opium with a cricket bat because she found a list he'd made with his Top 10 favourite things in the world.. Books came in at number one, Falsetto at two, so she beats him mercilessly, but then decides she better stick around and nurse him back to health and not return to her husband. Over the course of two years, the house gradually shrinks, Falsetto gets younger as Opium gets older and by the end of the book, it's a one-bedroom apartment in Richmond, Opium is 25 and Falsetto is 19 and needs to get back home to her parents' house because she has an assignment due the next day. And it's only two days' later. It takes 300 pages or so for the reality of the situation to become clear. It was too ambitious for my talents (lack thereof) and I gave up almost half-way through.
5. JOEY Another reason I gave up on the novel above was that I realised I wasn't too fussed about the boy/girl dynamic, and I wanted more characters. This fifth novel was about Joey, an insurance clerk who wants to be a poet, calling a work-sickie on a Tuesday morning as he wanted to spend the day typing his poems up on to his new computer. He lives in a one bedroom flat in East Melbourne, on Hoddle Street (by coincidence... so did I when I wrote this). But, word spreads he has called in sick. It's a bit Ferris Bueller, but anyway, all sorts of stuff happens throughout the day, people coming around, and there's marital affairs, a murder investigation, a suicide, a fire and lots of sex and drugs, all in his apartment, all on the one day. It was all very surreal (I used that word correctly, by the way), and about 80 pages in, I realised I didn't like my own surrealism. I was going through a David Lynch phase.
I was 25 years old and had five novels complete or partially complete.