The Next Twenty Years of the BOOK OF O’KELLS


Tuesday November 21, 2017

I have come this far with the Supernovel (so-called) and now have to begin back at the beginning with NATURE OF THE BEAST, at first conceived and executed as a novella called ATOMIC TOM but now re-born as a full-blown novel. (I like my narrator, my fictional alter-ego Will O’Kell, too much to let him go.) So that will be the work that gets me back into the BOOK OF O’KELLS, in a novella that wants to grow up to become a novel.

At the beginning of this new beginning, I’m right back to where I began in the first place with my very first attempt. In some ways my instincts were best at the start of all this O’Kell business back in 1996. Some of my first thoughts were on annotation, the text underneath the text, and comments and footnotes—and the idea that the original text is potentially a portal to a new dimension, the way The Upside Down world in STRANGER THINGS on Netflix.

Here’s what I mean. As writers we exists more or less in one flat, rectangular, linear dimension that goes from A to Z, from start to finish, without any easy mechanism for detours, asides, or embellishment. We also write in text without an easy opportunity to incorporate additional media. (Captions work great for photographs but the marriage between text and other media is invariably awkward.) I came to the conclusion that I was looking for a “form of forms,” to steal from the architect Frank Gehry—a form that would transform the creation with a profundity equal to the invention of the page and the printing press—or the television screen.

(Of course I will never get there but that’s my idea and I’m sticking to it.)

So maybe I knew (and know) more than I think. The BOOK OF O’KELLS now encompasses seven generations of the floundering O’Kell family, a period that stretches in fictional time from the 1890s to the 21st Century, one hundred years and counting. I’ve written seven novels, a play, short stories, a documentary script, book reviews, and endless dribs and drabs of the O’Kell family story—including a novel, THE GOOD EGG, on Facebook. The first published O’Kells novel, BOOK OF O’KELLS: MOTHER NATURE, made it to #6 on the Amazon bestseller list for Historical Fiction. I’m publishing O’Kell stories as well, with the inaugural NOTES ON THE SUPERNOVEL: The First Twenty Years of the BOOK OF O’KELLS 1996-2016, soon to be published in 2018. So all of that is something: the O’Kells have come to life at least on some level, with the vast bulk of the work yet to be seen.

Luckily the door is still open and the Supernovel is all but unexploited. The time has come to bring it on home.