"THE TRAVELS OF AUDREY GREEN"
"The Travels of Audrey Green" is the third and final book in the Audrey Green series (along with "The Numbing of Audrey Green" and "The Search for Audrey Green.") Now that all three books are available, I thought I'd tell you a bit more about their purpose and design.
What I have attempted to write is a series of books that could be read in any order. They would be sequels, prequels, and concurrent stories all wrapped together. Someone might read just one and be satisfied, or, if that book pleased them, they could read a second and enrich their experience with the first; or, ultimately, if they read all three, they would finally understand the full arc. The books each dovetail together in time and place, with over-lapping characters and events, all building to a single, connected resolution. This was a difficult juggling act and I'm praying that it isn't terribly boring or incomprehensible.
The response to the first two books was extremely positive. I probably would have stopped altogether if it hadn't been that way. I received many notes from readers saying how much they wanted to read this third book.
The complexity of the story is both its strength, and its Achilles' heel. You either enjoy its incredible intricacy, or you tune out. However, I feel the series is something you can really sink your teeth into - connecting on many levels, hopefully giving the reader a desire to discover and explore, resembling the characters' own motivations. It is truly interactive. There is nothing predictable in the narrative, but at every turn something new, engaging, and, on many occasions, confounding. It is the fiction equivalent of a gigantic puzzle, snapping one piece at a time until the entire picture is obvious.
A fellow writer described the books as "dangling a carrot at the end of a stick, never taking it off." I asked him if this drove him nuts, because it sounded tortuous. "No," he replied, "I know that you're gonna let me off the hook eventually and here's how I know " He was confident that ultimately there would be an end, as things he thought would never in a million years tie together, in fact, did. I would introduce ten plot points on page 5, but by the time you got to page 100, seven of them have been solved uniquely, interestingly, and completely. Then, with three questions still in the air, I'd go and introduce ten more fresh ones. That keeps the reader surprised. By this gradual "roll out" of endings, no matter how many twists and turns came in the plot, this writer could sense that I did have a plan and it would be revealed.
I'm glad it didn't seem like I was just throwing stuff in for no reason. As stated above, if you read all three books every single crazy-ass thing has an answer. A water glass might be tipped over in book two, but by God you're going to find out who tipped it over eventually. You just have to be patient.
I'm not kidding-this thing is a geometric marvel. Even if you think it sucks, I could sit you down and detail every little narrative choice and explain how it supports another. Patterns, which are the main thrust of the first book, are present in the plot, the structure, the language, and the sub-text. This mother has been built. It wasn't just written; it was constructed.
When I related the bizarre plot in dinner conversations or at parties, listeners scratched their heads. But once they would begin to read the novels, I'd get a phone call saying, "Oh - now I get it." A work this enormous (in page count & ambition) makes better sense on the page than any plot summary after three martinis.
The basic premise sounds easy enough:
In 1950's England, a group of children discover that tunnels connect their bodies.
That's boiling it down to its simplest "log line." On a grander scale, it's about a family known as the Greens, led by the youngest girl, Audrey, and their attempts to thwart the evil intensions of a germ researcher named Robby Holliday. Enveloping that plotline is a "second tier" of characters trying to understand the supernatural elements of people moving body to body, and how that is related to a number of violent crimes. And, pulling back even further, a third tier storyline of competing railway engineers trying to out-do each other in a mysterious game. There's also a forth tier, but I won't blow it for you here (all I can say is that if you've paid attention to the chapter titles, it should come as no surprise ) As I have said, the scope of this yarn is just enormous, but hopefully understandable and entertaining.
Although this novel is consistent in tone and style with the series, it is by far the most "action-packed." There are drownings, shootings, chase scenes, murders, diseases, double-crosses, robberies, romance, and adventure. Whereas I thought "Search" was a fairly earth-bound story, and "Numbing" a blend of human drama and supernatural occurrence, "Travels" is almost entirely 'unrealistic.' And by that word, I don't mean 'unbelievable,' but in this book there is a very high dose of fancy.
I cannot really comment on any new influences for the writing of this book, as it came on the heels of "Search." Between the first one and the second, I took a break to write "6 The Rise," but this time I figured I would just plow on. I read a couple of great new writers (Steve Monroe and H.V. Morton), and this cool book on the history of the MUZAK Company ("Elevator Music"), but they didn't really affect what I did here.
It's probably best to read all three books close together in time; there are many subtle clues and inferences that may be missed if a year passes between reading books. If you read #2 and #3 this year, but haven't read #1 since its release in 1999, you may want to go back. You'll find that it makes more sense now than it first did. I should have probably just released all three on the same day, but I was too anxious to get 'em out to the public.
So, why not one big book? Why three separate? Read them and you'll see. The structures are very, very important. Book 1 is about Audrey Green, book 2 is about Winsey Green, and book 3 is essentially about Antony Green. There is so much happening in each of the books, I also felt they would get tedious and overwhelming if they weren't broken into smaller bits.
Thank you very much for being excited about these. Thank you for being patient enough to read 1000 pages of anything I might care to think up. It would be great if people enjoyed the series (and not just because I invented them.) I warned you in 1999 that these were gonna be finished one day, and believe me I'm glad they are Can I just be lazy now?