A thought and a favour

I want to talk about my next book.

The title I have is

God Bothering

But it’s not primarily about religion.

The basic premise arose from thinking about my relationship with my father. Years 0 to 16 were just dandy; years 16 to 25 were in varying degrees fine, shit, fine, really shit and meah. From 25 to when he died in 2005 they became increasingly excellent. I wanted to write about fathers. I also wanted to look at faith, but from both the point of view of people who had or were losing it and how they might move on or ow they might seek to restore it. So another father figure – in the case God the father – snuck in.

From those initial ideas a story grew: of two people, one British, one American; one a cynical world-weary journalist, the other a bright-eyed scientist; both losing or having lost faith with their fathers and their God and the implications. I wanted it to be, if not a thriller then at least with a good driving plot and with something that is in the news currently.

Somewhere along the way I decided that I would need to invent my own Church – The Church of Science and Development – an evangelical Christian sect with its very own theology (some of which I wrote and will appear in the back of the book). I wanted the news worthy subject to be controversial and chose the ProLife and ethical debate around using the discarded human embryos left over from IVF treatment in researching cures for common ills.

I steeped myself in DNA and Genomes and haplography and mitochondria and Cohenism and induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and the Dickey-Wicker amendment and the various ever-changing executive orders of the Presidents since Clinton around Federal funds for creating lines of stem cells for research.

And I wrote the book. Today I am about 75 pages out of 375 from my own final edit. I have some brilliant beta readers also having a final look and here comes the thought (after the ramble).

I set myself three serious handicaps in writing this thing.

1. I am no scientist so my research on genetics, while fascinating, is rudimentary

2. I have put my Church in the fictional town of Beaumont in Oklahoma. I have never been to Oklahoma. The other American cities involved – New York and San Francisco – I have visited upwards of five times each so I have a reasonable feel for how they work. But Oklahoma is as familiar to me as the back of my neck. Except I’ve never scratched Oklahoma.

3. Part of the action and  a significant area of the plot involves Nicaragua (I hear you, folks – Why do this to yourself?) I needed one of the fathers, in this case the head of the Church, to have gone on a mission in his youth to somewhere preferably war-torn. Nicaragua stood out given the timing. It is also an interesting melting pot with the Meso-Indian tribes when considering the genetic history of its peoples.

I did my research online. I did a lot. I was quite pleased but… it nagged. I’d not spoken to anyone from either place for 2 and 3 and I was pretty sure my knowledge of genetics would have, within it, some pretty awful holes. I could have shrugged, let it go. I’d done all I could short of a lot of traveling.

But luck has a a habit of helping. The Vet is a scientist; a lot of her school friends are scientists. Two have done degrees in Biology with significant genetic components. These lovely youngsters read God Bothering and gave me amazing feedback (and most of the things I got wrong they both pointed out so at least I was pretty sure they were right!). But mostly they loved the book, gripped to the end. Tick.

The Lawyer has a lovely girlfriend, the Beautician of these pages who has a fascinating family background (what’s not to like about having a Zoroastrian branch who were persecuted out of Persia in the family tree?). She also has an uncle and aunt who live in Nicaragua. I found that out this summer and said aunt is now reading GB. I’m hopeful she will not have too much bad to say about it!

And blogging, which I started in April last year has opened the door to so many contacts who have become e-friends (and real friends too). Through this blog I’ve been lucky enough to be introduced to an Oklahoman by birth who is well versed in evangelical theologies from her youth. She too is reading the manuscript and, again, I hope the outcome will not be too negative! But see, even if it is, I still have a choice. Several. But I’m not going there yet.

 The big question is: Is research necessary? I think yes but it needs some grounding. Some authors feel they have to live the story, be physically present in every part. Others eschew research, doing the barest minimum to be credible and letting the nerdy critics’ words wash over them. Graham Swift, who wrote the brilliant Booker Prize winning Last Orders has said,

“I don’t research […] It’s a great destroyer of the imagination.”

So have I done enough? Yes, probably. Could I have done more? Of course. Where do you draw the line. Easy – where you are comfortable. And where is that? Hmm, a writer’s lot is to be perennially uncomfortable. I think I will have to keep squirming and move on. I’ll be interested to know what you think from this brief description

And the favour?

I have a cover, created by a friend of the Lawyer who is just starting out in his own graphic design business. Honest opinions only please. Personally I think it is a marvel….

God Bothering 3

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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31 Responses to A thought and a favour

  1. This cover is absolutely brilliant.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Sacha Black says:

    Holy sh*t (did u see what I did there!) ha. The cover is amazing I love it, I love that the helix is wrapped through the cross. LOVE the sound of it too. Have you been watching the news about genetic three parent babies? I wrote a post on it ages ago like two years (before I cared about writing so it’s more of a rant) by it’s just hit the news last week I believe, and all the God bothered are getting pissy about how all these kids are going to be sent to hell I eternal damnation because we are playing God. Personally I’m quite fond of giving fellow humans the chance to live free of mitochronidal disease and many others. But not the church.

    Church of science….? Different to church of Scientology? It made me think of that. :s

    Zoroastrian #mustgoogle!

    Interesting thought that research destroys the imagination….. Hmm. I am partial to making shit up as I go along…. Probably why I’m a fantasy writer!! Lol

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      I’m with you on all you say, Sacha. We’ve been genetically modifying everything from apples to dogs with our cross pollination and cross breeding for thousands of years. And now that we can do it to us and at a microscopic level we start getting iffy about it. I expect we will get there eventually but boy is it a painful process.
      Glad you like the cover and the premise. It does make people think Tom Cruise and John Travolta but when you read it you’ll soon think differently – it’s wackier than that.
      Research. I think I do it as long as I think it is interesting. Maybe I’m just a lazy sod. *sits back on sofa, nursing cuppa*

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sacha Black says:

        could not agree with you more! can’t see the problem personally. they just need to ensure that they legislate to prevent designer babies. But I think its fine to prevent heritable diseases. Ah ok, not just me then, I saw church of science and thought… huh?! My dad is a scientologist. I am not. nuff said.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Now Scientology, that is off the wall fruitcakery, isn’t it? My dad had an ‘experience’ with a scinetologist that left him bruised literally back in the 1970s. Ho ho. Parents, huh! When would we be without them er non existent but that isn’t the point! And as parents ourselves there’s only one promise we can make to our children. I will not repeat my parents’ mistakes: any mistakes will be all my own work.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sacha Black says:

        Pahaha! It is indeed fruitcakery! I do like that thought though. I shall make own mistakes as a parent! Let’s see how differently I can f*** my kid up shall we! Ha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Perfect, you’ve plenty of time to really ruin him. If mine are anything to go by it’ll amaze you what they choose to complain about – my son, aged about 15 ‘Dad, why didn’t you take us to many museums when we were small?’ ‘Er because the few we did you threw a tantrum that was so big they could see if from space’ ‘but it was my education you risked’. Cheeky little bleeder!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sacha Black says:

        Haha! Yes well quite right! Shame on you! Have to say I’m not impressed they are taking the diplodocus out of the natural history museum. Travesty that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Absolutely; I just signed a Change.org petition to pardon the gay men prosecuted pre 1967, following the pardon for Alan Turing last year and I think the next one should be Save our Dippy!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sacha Black says:

        Sounds good to me. The suggestion is a travesty – OOH I should go sign that petition too!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Foy says:

    I think in the beginning I was afraid research would bleach my creativity but recently I’ve found it enhances it. Writing about something I am unfamiliar with forces me to learn (always a good outcome!). Besides, if I wrote only “what I know,” my range would be incredibly limited. :p

    As for the cover, it seems to incorporate all the themes you mentioned the book is about though it first struck me as the cover for a theological rather than a fiction work. Just my thoughts. 🙂

    You’ve done a great job building intrigue and this whole post makes me want to read it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Now that’s interesting. I expect that is a downside with the title linked to the picture. I have agonised over that not wanting to put people off. Thank you for spending the time commenting. And I’m glad you like the premise!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Foy says:

        I don’t know that it’ll put people off but might make them think it belongs in a non-fiction genre (and that could also just be my first impression). 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        I’ve had three, now four people say something similar and really the title is the issue. It is all v helpful and I will give it some – as in a humongous amount of. – thought . Thank you. I think you have hit the spot. Watch for changes!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. rgemom says:

    I think enough research to make it believable is necessary, but then not everyone who reads it is a scientist nor theology major. My mantra when reading fiction and watching movies/television is to suspend reality. Sounds like a very interesting read. And I love the cover.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. lindahuber says:

    That’s a cover you glance at at think, gosh, and then you look more closely and think, WOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Annecdotist says:

    As you know, I read an early draft of this novel, so my comments are based on my vague memory of that. I thought both the church and the science were sufficiently convincing – okay, perhaps they wouldn’t pass muster for experts, but worked for me. Despite all my criticism of inadequate fictional therapists, I’m all for lazy research, but now you have some more knowledgeable advisers, I’m sure you’ll be fine,
    But, yeah, it’s quite an ambitious plot and you’ve had fun interweaving the different strands. For me, the father theme got a bit lost in all the action, but maybe that doesn’t matter too much if it got you to the story you wanted.
    But I never liked the title. Not sure what would work as an alternative but you might need something to flag it as a thriller. The something project? I really don’t know.
    But the cover is ACE. I’m seeing quite a few of those ambiguous figure types, and will possibly have something of that type is a contender for mine. Check out The Chimes for something similar – it’s also an amazing novel but my review won’t be up until the author get back to me with her answers to my piercing questions

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      You are the third person, in the last few months to question the title! And I did think about asking the post question on this post but dropped it! Coward that I am. But when my beta reader Graham said ‘drop it’ I did start thinking it might have to go. Project… That is interesting. I will give it some thought . Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. lorilschafer says:

    Okay, I guess I’m going to be the dissenter on the cover. The base image is fabulous – very compelling – but this cover will not work well for online sales. First, it isn’t high-contrast enough. In thumbnail size it’s going to look like an amorphous blob, which takes away a lot of its appeal. You might also consider a bolder color base to make it more visible. Having a white background can also be tricky when you’re selling online, as edges can be difficult to see. However, because the image itself is so busy, you’ll probably have a hard time coming up with a good background image, and a simple color fill might be a bit plain. Finally, the text needs to be completely reworked – it looks unprofessional as it is, which offers a very strange contrast to the image, which is itself so amazing. It needs to be bigger and chunkier – your name isn’t even legible in the thumbnail. I’ve put together a quickie revised version which I will tweet to you so you can see what I mean. It isn’t perfect, but if you look at them side by side you may be able to guide your designer into producing an image that’s more book-cover-friendly. I’m also going to recommend submitting the cover to Joel Friedlander’s eBook cover design awards, which he runs monthly: http://www.thebookdesigner.com/e-book-cover-design-awards-submissions/. It’s free and for most submissions, he gives professional feedback on design which goes far beyond my limited understanding of the subject, which may help you to pinpoint how best to use this image on your cover.

    Liked by 4 people

    • TanGental says:

      No that’s excellent stuff, Lori. I have to learn as does my artist and all advice is welcomed. We will go away and look at your ideas but they all sound very sensible. And thank you for the suggestion re Joel. I will take a good look at that too. I ahdnt thought about th thumbnail/amazon goodreads size image which is obvious when it is pointed out but I still think in paperback sizes…

      Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Lost my reply… grrrr. Basically thank you so much; we hadn’t thought about the reduced size issue, still focusing on the paperback size. I will revert to my artist (he’s new at this lark too) and we will see what can be done. I love the cover so we may have to compromise but at least I can do so deliberately and not accidentally. And thank you for the recommendation too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Charli Mills says:

    Amazing artistry. Love the depth of art on the cover, but agree with Lori on size, color and fonts. She’s sharp! I like seeing you all out in the book jungle because it helps me navigate, too!

    Is “God Bothering” a British slang? I’m not familiar with it. I was thinking about Anne’s suggestion of “Project” and “God Botherer” popped in mind — what better thriller is there than the “God Father”? You’re a fabulous poet, so keep playing with phrases.

    I’m a reluctant science researcher but I thrive on historical research, which really should point me in the direction of my topics! But I’m fascinated by scientists. I just wrote my science thriller from complete imagination. It’s been sitting under the weight of me knowing I have lots of blanks to fill in. However, I liked the process of write it first, ask later because sometimes I didn’t know the questions until I wrote the scenes. As with any writing process, it depends upon the writer. I’m all for imagination and free expression that then can be revised and shaped with credibility.

    What an exciting book!

    Liked by 2 people

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Charli. I sense, now I have the book finished that the title is a bit passé. I came up with it early on and the book has moved whereas the title hasn’t.
      Glad you research ex post facto as I do. I like to dig into the story and then go back and justify it with the research!
      Glad you think it is exciting.

      Like

  9. Dylan Hearn says:

    I’m a bit late to this but I think the cover is great, really nicely done. I agree that the foetus could possibly be stronger (or at least outlined). Fonts are OK but I agree with Lori that they look ‘basic’. You should always check your covers full size, Amazon thumbnail size and in black and white (for kindle).
    I love the premise of your book, it sounds right up my street. I was tempted to bring religion (at least the organised type) into my books a little more than I have but thought it would distract from the main storyline, so I can’t wait to see how you take this on.
    As for research, you need to do enough for whatever you talk about to be plausible within the framework you’ve set for your novel. Some people love the detail, I prefer to touch on things and allow those cleverer than me to work out the how for themselves. Getting help from friendly experts, at least to catch any howlers, is always a good move.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Wow, thanks Dylan. That is so useful. Religion plays a significant part but it is not the essential component so I really think the title has to change. Another challenge.
      And I enjoy research usually so long as it is fruitful. What does me is when I cannot even find the right place to start. The old Hitch Hikers Guide problem – I know the answer to the ultimate question I just don’t know the question.

      Liked by 1 person

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