«ShadowWalk is a powerful tale of magick and empowerment which manages not to sound like a mind-body-spirit-self-obsessed-hippie book. This is full-on reality. Blood and sweat and shit - nothing's toned down or dulled. The intensity of life comes through strong and meaty. Real life bursting off the pages».
Review in Green Anarchist (the original and best) No. 68/69 Summer 2003.
Trim the story, tighten the plot, that was usually what I was told to do by potential editors, and only when their response to my writing was somewhat coherent and made sense at all.
I disagreed, of course, and told them so, and they drew a blank. It seemed like they hadn’t even heard of vigorous storytelling, a sneaking suspicion that was indeed confirmed later. They just weren’t used to people disagreeing with them. They wanted all young, hopeful authors to stand there with the hat in their hands and beg for favors. I am and was fortunately made of different material.
ShadowWalk began, at least in part as a sort of excess product of what was discarded from my writing on Dreams Belong to the Night. At first I put everything that didn’t fit in Dreams there, but eventually it grew, branched out from there to encompass many directions and dynamics. I wrote the books practically simultaneously. SW was a story I didn’t choose, and that I initially didn’t see as terribly important compared to what I saw as the main story, but one that gained its own importance as I wrote it. Roughly stated, Dreams is about politics, while SW is about religion, and the upcoming, still to be completed Phoenix Green Earth is about both.
The completed story in Norwegian, what I out of old habit sent around to established publishers in 1993 and 1994 was about 200 000 words, and that was what they told me to trim and tighten.
I had really decided to abandon any contact with established publishers after their treatment of Dreams in 1991, but as stated, out of habit I decided to give them one more change…
It was yet another bust, yet another bad experience, yet another show of their completely fucked up priorities.
One said I should keep the first chapter and start over. This as one example of the quality of their «advice».
A few years later, in 1997, when I started translating SW I found that there was stuff there I wasn’t pleased with, but my take on it was quite different from the editors employed by the established publishers…
I translated, rewrote and expanded what I now see as the first draft, and ended up with a slightly different story, carefully, cautiously polished here and there, but still the same. I expanded it from 200 000 words to 300 000… and all the new strange twists and turns made it an even better tale.
The editors wanted me to trim it with fifty percent. I ended up expanding it with fifty percent, a very pleasing result.
Another great irony here is that this is one of my most edited books.
Here is one reader’s reaction that I can totally relate to:
«SW may break all the rules of novel writing, but it works.
And it makes sense if you aren't too brainwashed to understand and experience it. I never found it jumpy or disjointed. And I believe that it flows quite nicely and seems effortlessly elegant in the way it works.
When a stream flows around rocks in a very not straight line, we still find it beautiful. It will be full of back eddies and undercurrents and twist and turns. But it is still flowing. It is making sense within its own environment.
And just because it doesn't flow at one speed in one direction, you can't say that's wrong. What the stream does is right for the stream. What SW does is right for SW».
I didn’t set out to break all rules of storytelling, but realized quickly that was what I was doing, and once I did I set out to break them all the more. During the rewriting/translation/expansion I most certainly did. I followed one - 1- advice given me by the various editors and ignored/discarded the rest and removed myself and the story further from their vision (or lack of it), doing what felt natural and right.
It was really funny when I met one of them by chance several years later and told him about it. I could see that he wanted to murder me on the spot. No bull! These people, generally speaking are so set in their ways that they see any opposition to their sacred texts as an affront to their sanctity, and that is why authors should avoid them completely.
This is a story about witches written after I realized I was one myself, a fact making a considerable difference, of course. True witches are, inevitably Agents of Change, a threat to any establishment, any imposed reality. It’s about special people, about the paranormal and its place in a society denying its very existence.
Like many of my stories the events described are practically autobiographical. Almost everything has really happened, one way or another.
One more thing to note about SW and Dreams is the high number of females and/or people with a darker skin hue. I got sick and tired of the one female, one Asian/African-American/European quota in films/novels and decided to go completely overboard in order to distance myself from it.
It felt perfectly natural.
Oh, yeah, this is my least violent book, I guess, at least in terms of showing physical violence. There are no guns, except in the hands of not very present military personnel.
It’s just as controversial as the rest, though. A reader wondered why I left out homosexuality when it was so filled with other controversial issues. I replied that it was partly a coincidence and partly that I didn’t truly see homosexuality as a controversial issue, anyway, and then I asked him to read Dreams Belong to the Night when it was published in English. Well, man, it has been a fairly long wait, but now you can finally enjoy that one, too…
This is basically the same book that was first published as a paperback in 2003, with corrections and minor changes. There are only 446 pages, with smaller fonts to not make it too expensive.
It’s a book about young adults, but isn’t a Young Adult book…
«Before I read ShadowWalk I thought the advertising was overblown to say it was "one of the most controversial novels ever written". Then I read it and found that to just be fact».
The book is for sale at Amazon and AmazonUK and Barnes & Noble and basically all over the world.