In Cornwall there is a tradition known as Nickanan where people play pranks on each other in February to wake the sleeping earth. This January, once again I find myself not only between houses, but also awaiting the germination of the next book's publication. So while the northern hemisphere still sleeps, I keep myself occupied with mundanities, taking it easy and doing the odd bits of writing here and there such as this blog, Patreon essays and fine-tuning the new book. Simultaneously, Pramada, who did the stunning cover of The God of New York, is beginning work on the cover.
Originally called Alien Agenda, I had to forego that title - first, because there was already a book similarly titled; secondly, as the writing of the novella went on, emphases in the book shifted dramatically. This seemed to be very much its nature. The three central characters developed clear senses of who they were and what they wanted to do, fairly different from what I had originally planned. Superficially there may be resemblances between this and what is depicted in Secrets: An Oxford Tale; but whereas that earlier book was fairly cerebral, providing big picture stuff, this new one is more visceral, as befits the main character who tends to jump right into unknown scenarios.
There were several motivations for writing the book: Certainly, I wanted to emphasise the personal transformation people experience whenever they have anything akin to an alien encounter; and to look at what that word 'alien' might actually mean, for it struck me how in purported cases as well as in science fiction, the aliens remain fairly recognisable. Even the obviously named Alien franchise is about a creature with insect-like properties, such as laying eggs in living hosts. In the real world, a renowned reseacher - Hynek or Vallee, I forget which - made a comment like, 'If this phenomenon reveals itself to be something as mundane as extraterrestrials, I am going to be severely disappointed.'
In terms of X-Dimensional Theory, reports tend to be six-dimensional in tone, particularly with the shifting forms of observed phenomena and superficially nonsensical close encounters. (The X Files episode Jose Chung's From Outer Space remains one of the best depictions of this through-the-looking-glass world.) Indeed, to make anything like sense out of much of this, six dimensions have to be included within XDT parameters. Some of this was explored in God of New York, but where five dimensions were more or less discounted. Here, there is an attempt to include them, as much as is possible within a story whilst still remaining intelligible. Five dimensions in this context may manifest through time distortions ('wild time' I call it), extreme radiation exposure of all kinds and a conduit to the land of the dead, to name a few factors.
Another main theme is that of us being 'food for the moon' as Gurdjieff put it. Other researchers have found different ways to express the same idea, that our roles on Earth are merely that of livestock until we wake up out of our slumber, meditation being one of the key ways to do so. Robert Monroe in Far Journeys describes his extreme discomfort at meeting a supreme divinity who is as far removed from the benign, compassionate, all-loving creator he had been brought up to believe in. So the question is, for the main protagonist in the book, what does she do once becoming aware of a hostile universe in which her family are threatened, and help from outside is negligible at most? To fight it means to become part of the problem, and to do nothing is unacceptable.
The book has been a challenge on many levels, one which I welcomed. It has forced me to push the boundaries of my writing and research, so that I could simultaneously tell what is hopefully a compelling story whilst conveying concepts that may be beyond what we normally think of as alien. It has been a linguistic challenge as much as anything which I have really enjoyed. Personally I think it may be one of my best yet. Watch this space for further announcements and/or subscribe to my Patreon page for previews and in-depth material relating to this subject e.g. 'How to Build a Spaceship in Eight Easy Dimensions'.
Note: Photographs are all mine and are, from top: St Mount's Bay at Dusk; Ithaca: Fire and Ice exhibition in Wakefield, Yorkshire (2); and, finally, a crop circle at the Sanctuary, Wiltshire, taken a long time ago: