Today I am thrilled to welcome guest author Matthew G. Young. Awaken is Matt’s first novel however he is not new to writing, Matt is normally a finance writer and currently working on 6 novels! Welcome Matt so glad to have you.
Awaken took me a really long time to write–over seven years. That seems way too long by today’s standards. James Patterson and Stephen King are both putting out multiple books every year, so why couldn’t I finish this in at least a year?
The problem was that I didn’t know what the story I was trying to tell really was. Yeah, I knew I wanted a cool Western, something that I would enjoy reading and something that was different enough from what had been written before to turn some heads. And I think I did that with my first incarnation of the story. The problem was, I didn’t like the story. I would have read it, and I probably would have enjoyed it, but I wasn’t enjoying writing it. It was too formulaic and too uninspired. For several years, I would work on it for a few hours, then spend months away from it.
But I always returned to it. There was a story there–I knew that–I just didn’t know what it was.
It turned out that the “Western” I wanted to write was only a Western on the surface. It was actually a Science Fiction book set in the backdrop of the Wild West.
Several things happened over the course of those seven years. I met the woman that became my wife. I had two children. I became a Christian. Those were the big ones, obviously, but there were lots of little things, too. Way too many to mention. Somehow, the combination of all those things, both big and little, were the perfect combination to get me where I needed to be to finish the book. I took out a lot of the needless scenes and threw in little points that reinforced my beliefs and my background. I changed the book from a pointless piece of entertainment to something that I considered a (hopefully) worthwhile read.
I think this becomes obvious (at least to me) when you look at the evolution of my main character, Jon Harbinger. In the opening scene, he murders two men for no other reason than he doesn’t want them to talk about what he hired them to do. In the end, he spares his enemies lives, even though they are helpless and have tried to kill him multiple times. When I began writing this, I didn’t see that compassion and mercy in Jonny Boy. But it was there, just waiting for me to get ready to see it.
There’s a great Neil Gaiman quote about his book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He says something to the effect that he had thought of the premise for the story a really long time ago, but he wasn’t a good enough writer yet to write it correctly. That’s kind of how this book was for me. The good news is that it implies I’m going to keep growing as a writer. It’s exciting and I can’t wait to finish my next book.
What I’m trying to say it that the book was written by me, but I had to get in the right place before I could actually do so. I’m not sure if this is common amongst other writers, but it’s certainly how I felt with this story. I’ve always written nonfiction in the past, and this was a completely new experience for me. When I wrote my first two books on finance, there was no right “mindset.” It was all research and making sure I didn’t misspell things. This was about getting inside my characters’ heads and trying to figure out what they would do and how they would feel about doing it. This was very different and a ton more fun.
Synopsis for Awaken
It’s the Wild West, mid-1870s. Jon Harbinger is a typical gambler during the Gold Rush, except he has a huge price on his head. But the man Jon owes the money to isn’t the only one he needs to worry about. There are bounty hunters from hundreds of years in the future looking for him, and the stakes are much higher than he could ever dream of.