Memories of my first novel

I wrote my first published novel in 1980. I called it The Sun Singer and found an agent for it. The agent, who ran a one-person shop, liked the novel and accepted it. However several months later, she wrote and said I would have to wait a while before she could actively promote it because another author whom she represented suddenly had a bestseller and that was requiring all of the agent’s time.

I’m glad I didn’t wait for her to finish working on The Clan of the Cave Bear since it went through many sequels. So, I extracted the novel from the agent and it sat until I first published it via iUniverse in 2004. The book’s reception was pretty good, including ending up as a finalist Foreword Magazine’s book of the year awards.

Wikipedia Photo

If you’ve been reading this blog for years–or its predecessor blog on Blogger–you know already that the plot for this novel came to me when I was in junior high school just after a visit with my grandparents and parents to Allerton Park in Illinois. Allerton is the home of a famous statue called The Sun Singer. On the way home from the park, a horrid thunderstorm hit and the images of the statue (and others at Allerton) flashed on and off outside the car window as though somebody were operating a giant strobe light.

For many nights afterward, those images became part of my dreams, dreams that were somewhat psychic for a while (long before I knew much about precognitive dreams) and suddenly I was seeing a young man who lived in Decatur, Illinois (where my grandparents lived) who went on a journey to a nearby universe where he became known as “The Sun Singer.” The novel is set in Glacier National Park.

In 2010, several traditional publishers expressed an interest and it ended up with Vanilla Heart Publishing until I left that company and self-published the book in 2015 because it had been around too long to another publisher to risk bringing out again.

The book is a contemporary fantasy as well as a hero’s journey novel. That is to say, that while what the hero does in terms of action is important, how he changes is even more important. The general sequence of events on such a journey was published years ago in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces.

I have two things to confess: (1) I have refused to read The Clan of the Cave Bear, and (2) The Sun Singer is my favorite book. A first novel is, I think, rather like a first love. One never forgets either one regardless of how things go later. I like what I’ve written since 1980, but still, a first novel is always the first novel no matter how many books come after it.