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November 17, 2019

Do atheists recoil from a Caravaggio painting if the subject depicted is religious? I think such a response must be very rare. Ask the same question about a work of modern fiction. Slightly different, isn’t it? People choose to read a work of fiction because they are interested in some aspect of it, such as genre, the subject, the author, the cover, the price, advertising, recommendation. If one of these aspects disinterests them, they wont read the book. Fair enough. The aspect we’re talking about here is ‘subject’, of course. At what point would your average atheist say, ‘No, that’s too much religion for me, thank you,’ and put the book down?

I can only invert the question: at what point...

October 20, 2019

Something personal happened to me about this time last year that blew my mind. As it relates to allegory and so the novel, I Am Not Gog, I feel it is appropriate to share it with you here, and I feel it is worth sharing because it is so astonishing. I’ll take this opportunity to give a brief primer about the use of allegory in literature and how it is pitched in the novel I Am Not Gog, which I intended to do sometime here, anyway.

From its most basic definition as ‘symbol’, the word ‘allegory’ can describe all art and its perceivable component parts. But that renders the word useless, so, we all agree that we are talking about a conscious use of symbology by an artist or writer to convey a...

August 18, 2019

Where did the story come from? It was a long time ago, but I can remember a dream, and I usually say that that was the starting point. I think it was the start. I think it was the spark that took some ideas I was working on and put life into it, ignited my passion for it, urged me to find out more about what preceded the strange scene I had dreamed, and what might happen after it.

I was taking a sabbatical in Malaysia for a couple of years, practising the craft of fiction by writing short stories that were for my eyes only – crazy stuff that was just me allowing my creativity free reign. There was even one about how giraffes, all over the world, were suddenly able to fly. Mad, embarrassing t...

July 14, 2019

[Spoiler alert]

Music is a big part of my process in writing. It evokes moods in which the imagination can find more out of a situation, a character, or a place. Lyrics can also carry ideas or prompts. Sometimes the effect is slight or even whimsical, but there are times when it is significant, with the music almost driving the creative process. So, when I begin a project, I’m exploring new music for inspiration all the time. This is moreso for the novel I’m currently researching because music is a key element to the story, whereas in I Am Not Gog, any reference to music was incidental. Music was still important to the creation of it, though, and here I’ll give some insights as to what sound...

February 24, 2019

[Spoiler alert]

Tomorrow marks the fourth anniversary of I Am Not Gog’s publication. There are two churches in Lydia’s story. Four years after publishing it, I have only just realised myself that their two appearances in the novel both happen to separately precede events that lead to the death of innocent men, each of which in turn precipitates great upheaval in Lydia’s life. This was not done consciously, I’m sure. The two church scenes developed completely independent of each other. The story called for their existence and their natural place within it. As writer’s often say, writing fiction is sometimes like excavating dinosaur skeletons. You’re often discovering the story, rather than de...

August 12, 2018

Most writers complain about writing too much content and having to force themselves to pare away all that is unnecessary in the editing. I’m not like most. I’m the reverse. I was the reverse in the writing and editing of I Am Not Gog, at least. Perhaps, now I have learnt my craft, it will be different next time. I didn’t have to force myself to increase the word count, though, it sort of happened naturally in the rewrites. As you can see from the graph, I started out with a meagre 48,000 words and ended up with over 80,000. That’s adding over 32,000 words. Something must be wrong with me.

The last award-winning contemporary literary novel I read started out at 120,000 words in the first dra...

May 13, 2018

I can’t quite remember why I first did this back in 2013, two years before publication. Curiosity, I suppose. I know I had seen some theory about story arc and I think I must have wanted to see how I Am Not Gog fared under some analysis, at least. I’m really not one for creating from theory or formulas, most of them appear to be common sense dressed up in fancy words, from Aristotle to today’s (culturally and ethically problematic) literary agency ‘writing courses’.

I’m a sucker for a nice graph, so I broke the novel down into its thirty-six scenes and put them into a spreadsheet and estimated how much drama each contained on a scale of one to a hundred. Each scene may contain some calm as...

April 8, 2018

Lydia’s busybody social worker, Sofie Duluti, is a minor character with probably the most complex name in the novel. It is first an anagram. I won’t spoil it by openly giving you the solution up front, but I've hidden it right at the bottom of this blog page should you want to check if your solution is right.

It is second a marriage of two disparate concepts, which delivers a whole sense that supports the anagram and what the social worker represents. This happened to be largely serendipitous, because the anagram came first and I then went looking to see what the components might accidentally mean, to make sure there wasn't any conflict with the intended meaning. That serendipity was itself...

January 14, 2018

Write what you know, they say. I know the town where I grew up, so that was why Lydia’s story started in Hinckley. She had to travel somewhere else, though, and Alex had to come from somewhere else, so why did that somewhere else turn out to be Grimsby, about which I knew next to nothing at the time? I turned to the allegory to find it.

In conflating the two main allegorical themes of Ezekiel 38-39 and the Caucasus-gate fable of the Alexander Romances, I decided to draw a line on an atlas from Jerusalem to the middle of the Caucusus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. This reflected Ezekiel’s prophecy that Gog of Magog would come from the north (from the perspective of the ancient I...

July 28, 2017

Everybody knows superstition is stupid, even superstitious people. So, after about eight drafts of my novel, I Am Not Gog, I was surprised to find myself suddenly editing under the grip of a powerful and exacting superstition that was impossible to escape.

The grind of writing a novel is mostly in the process of rewrites and editing. The process is endless. The rewrites are many. The number of rewrites that I Am Not Gog underwent isn't strictly accurate, because in early rewrites of the whole manuscript, I would rewrite a single scene anywhere between one to ten times until I was happy enough to move on to the next scene (or was sick of it). My final edit has the title ‘30th Draft’, but it...

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This is a repository of insights about the novel I Am Not Gog (and future work). There will be new insights every month or so until we have a full library and nothing is left unexplored. If you came here to find out more about the allegory of the novel, start by clicking HERE.

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I Am Not Gog. A novel by Matthew James Hunt.

© 2015-2020 Matthew James Hunt. INKTAP Publishing