A good novel will transport the reader to a world where they live, breathe and experience outside of reality. A good novel is the opportunity to escape through the window of the page. A good novel offers new emotions and perspectives that, perhaps, we (the reader or listener) wouldn’t ‘normally’ experience.
And a novel can not only entertain us; it can inform us.
If you follow Tim Rees’ Twitter feed (@stillsoul), then you are probably familiar with his quote:
“Art is perspective. Great art is perspective that pokes us in the eye.”
And, although it is arguable, I think Tim makes a very good point. Art should be challenging the viewer or reader with new perspectives. Of course, a lot of popular art is pretty pictures, but great art goes deeper, much deeper. Great art can challenge us with a perspective or perspectives that leave us uncomfortable and cause us to re-examine what was previously considered truth.
When I first read A Seed Once Sown (a novel that will be published on the 1st of April) it made me uncomfortable because the hero is a murderer. But as a person who is passionate about animal rights, I loved the moral backbone of the story. So I’m torn because I’m being asked to put animals before humans. Tim argues we are equals because we share the same space and all species, humans included, are reliant on planet Earth.
So, yes, I find myself re-examining the familiar perspectives I’d grown up with, because I’ve been exposed to new perspectives. After reading A Seed Once Sown, I found myself considering how I could better share the space on Earth I consider mine. My house and garden is home to a whole host of life forms I had previously considered were invasive. I was wrong. They have as much right to the space I occupy as myself. I have learned to look at ‘my home’ as ‘our home’. Tim’s novel did that for me. I feel I have grown as a result of reading and being exposed to the story.
Another novel that challenged me is The Drama Merchant (now available). A novel also written by Tim Rees (I suppose you can guess now why we are focused on publishing Tim’s work). I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of The Drama Merchant, I think you need to read it for yourself. The content is particularly strong. Some readers will be shocked by it and we accept that. But, as a person who has grown up in the UK with Christian values, it made me stop and think and re-evaluate lots of stuff I had never questioned.
There are novels written as pure entertainment and novels that provoke thought. The Drama Merchant does both powerfully and that’s why we had to publish the story.
But, as a publisher, what excites me most about the novel is the author can more fully explore ideas, storylines and perspectives than other creative mediums. As a novelist, Tim does that. His stories open the door on ideas and opinions that are challenging.
If you sat a group of novelists down to write a love story, each author would write a different story. Some maybe similar as genre requires certain criteria. However, sometimes, when I say sometimes, I mean rarely, I come across a writer who throws a curve ball. Both, The Drama Merchant and A Seed Once Sown throw curve balls.
No two authors can write the same story even if they have exactly the same idea and stick to the very same storyline, mainly because no two writers will create the same characters and the characters will change the subplots. As in real-life where everyone is living their own individual story, so are the characters in novels. But when an author allows the characters a free rein to tell their story, magic happens.
Fiction isn’t truth by the very definition of the word fiction, but fiction can reflect the truth of perspectives we hadn’t previously experienced and the new perspective can change our mind because, if the writer is good enough, the new perspective can enter our personal realm of reality.
So, to conclude, as a publisher we seek something different. Every storyline has probably been written a thousand or more times, so we seek a new perspective.