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Old 02-23-2009, 02:50 AM   #16
Richard Herley
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Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.

In the end I rejected all that as too arty and complicated and just went for the straight narrative, leaving in those few hints and echoes as a way of destabilizing his sanity further.

Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.

One publisher's reader complained that Bex was not evil enough, so in the rewrite I just took my cue from what was in the newspapers -- accounts from Kosovo, Rwanda, Colombia, you name it.

I don't think gasoline or diesel would have become unusable after that period of time, if kept properly sealed. The ammo I don't know about. All the gun stuff came from library books; I know nothing about them myself.

May I also thank those members who have sent me a payment for Refuge? I greatly appreciate your support, but I did waive payment for the purposes of this reading, so please help yourself to another book on the house! Those who didn't mind the violence might like The Penal Colony; those who did should try The Tide Mill.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:42 AM   #17
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Overall, I really enjoyed the book, a definite page turner.
The author did a great job of creating a gripping tale in a fully imagined environment. I was thoroughly absorbed throughout.
Desertgrandma has already made some good points about the way communities and individuals react in lawless circumstances.
This could almost have been a Western - with the 'man with no name' riding into town to protect it from the outlaws.
It was a relief that the violence didn't get more grim than that of the first few chapters - I worried that the ante would keep being upped to even more nauseating levels; but the author resisted that temptation.
There seemed to be a whiff of intellectual pretension in some parts of the narrative (discussion of IQs, use of obscure vocabulary, foreign language snippets etc.) - but it didn't get too annoying, and just about fitted in.
The fetishising of weapons - knives and guns - was depressing, but probably realistic in an environment where they were relied on for survival. (There seemed to be a lot of Kalashnikovs in England; I know nothing about weaponry - but I'd have thought there would have been other types of rifles in our military stores.)
I was hoping Suter wouldn't get sucked into the community at the end - but that's just me.
I'd happily recommend it for those not of a squeamish disposition.

There were a few apparent typos in my copy:
Chapter 5
"ward away the brambles in directly front" - think it should be "directly in front".
"'mathematical arrangement of domed druplets"' - think it should be "droplets".

Chapter 6
"Steve made out of the form of two lift doorways" - think it should be "made out the form"
Also, in this chapter, I was puzzled by the word "might" in "Daylight dwindled, might soon be left behind." - it seems a bit uncertain for something so definite.
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Richard Herley View Post
Thanks for the interest in this! I'd like to answer a few of the queries that have emerged so far.

This book had a very long gestation, and you are not wrong if you think that the England described just before the plague has a somewhat earlier feel than it should. My agent submitted an early draft of the first 15,000 words or so to various publishers; a couple were enthusiastic but didn't think they could make money on it. Times are even tougher for fiction now, so this title has only ever been available as a shareware ebook.

My original intention for the story was to leave the setting open to doubt. There were three possibilities:

1. As described in the final draft.

2. Suter really was the only, and I mean the only, survivor. He has lived alone, in that house by the river, for many years, but now he is sick and dying and the narrative is an hallucination.

3. Suter is a patient in a mental hospital and the whole thing is delusion.

An echo of (2) comes when he is recovering at the end and conflates his room at the rectory with a room in his own house: especially the view from it, including the copper beech. (3) is strongly hinted at in the hospital scene when he is waiting on the stairs. The conflation of the two Helens is part of this too: the man pulled from the river can also be thought of as Suter himself.

In the end I rejected all that as too arty and complicated and just went for the straight narrative, leaving in those few hints and echoes as a way of destabilizing his sanity further.

Suter's obsessive personality would have been the only thing that let him survive alone for so long. Such a man would have gathered absolutely everything and anything he could think of after the plague; his training as a scientist would have made that process even more methodical. His obsession with his former fiancée is a measure of his craziness. After all, what happened between them is nothing unusual or terminally damaging: one just moves on, yet Suter clings to the memory, because it gives him a form of masochistic comfort.

As for the reluctance of the villagers to resist the baddies, that is my view, nowadays, of the English, so much have we been infantilized by the government. Not everyone is like that, of course, but it's the majority reaction. That's why I made Davies a former civil servant. Suter's response to Muriel's report that Bex has confiscated all the weapons -- "Use a brick" -- is completely at odds with attitudes here towards criminals.

One publisher's reader complained that Bex was not evil enough, so in the rewrite I just took my cue from what was in the newspapers -- accounts from Kosovo, Rwanda, Colombia, you name it.

I don't think gasoline or diesel would have become unusable after that period of time, if kept properly sealed. The ammo I don't know about. All the gun stuff came from library books; I know nothing about them myself.

May I also thank those members who have sent me a payment for Refuge? I greatly appreciate your support, but I did waive payment for the purposes of this reading, so please help yourself to another book on the house! Those who didn't mind the violence might like The Penal Colony; those who did should try The Tide Mill.
Oooh that makes things even more interesting, knowing all that.

I'm going to check out your other books (but too bad, I'm donating!)
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:15 AM   #19
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I noticed more than usual the differences between the King's English and American English:

My American dictionary failed on
- "louche" (as in louche subversiveness),
- "eidetic" (as in eidetic detail)

<snip>

And "puissant" was not only abundant in the narrative, but was also spoken at least once by a character. Odd, as I don't think I've ever heard that word before.
I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:26 AM   #20
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I got the impression that the one unintelligent character (drawing a blank here) was the only one who said it, and he was doing so to impress Bex.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:27 AM   #21
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I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)

I kept reading 'piss ant'
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:28 AM   #22
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I think you might need a new dictionary as those are all pretty common words and should be common between British and American usage

edit: but you're right, I've never heard anybody say "puissant" in English either (lots in French of course...)
Thank you, I'll take your good advice. I just checked the copyright date of my nice fat "Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, College Edition." 1968.
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:35 AM   #23
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I must say, Suter was starting to annoy me, until I realized.......this is a true hero. He was terrified thruout, yet kept doing what he knew was right. Especially at the end. Heroes aren't like what we see on TV........they cry, they shake with fear. But.......they keep doing what they know they have to.
I agree with your whole "life isn't nice" post, but especially this. I think you've nailed why "Refuge" was so fascinating to me. This hero was real! And all novels and TV before this book aren't.

And your definition of hero is spot on. Am awaiting *your* novel.
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:06 PM   #24
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Sorry! You know I wasn't trying to be mean, right? I've left plenty of reviews on the "Let's get some action going" thread where I have disliked violent books. I simply prefer not to read such graphic descriptions.

Richard, I plan to get The Tide Mill. Thanks for making it available!
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Old 02-23-2009, 12:06 PM   #25
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I kept reading 'piss ant'
Actually, it is the opposite of pissant.

BOb
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:10 PM   #26
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Sorry! You know I wasn't trying to be mean, right? I've left plenty of reviews on the "Let's get some action going" thread where I have disliked violent books. I simply prefer not to read such graphic descriptions.

Richard, I plan to get The Tide Mill. Thanks for making it available!
DG, you couldn't be mean for the life of you.

The entire story wouldn't have had the impact without the graphic descriptions. It was a post apopolypic tale, after all.

I just wanted to stress......God help us all if/when anything like this ever happens. There will be survivors, good and bad, weak and strong.

Guess what will happen to the good and weak?
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:12 PM   #27
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Guess what will happen to the good and weak?
They inherit the earth?

BOb
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:15 PM   #28
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They inherit the earth?

BOb
Here's another cup of kool-aid!
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Old 02-23-2009, 01:37 PM   #29
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They inherit the earth?

BOb
This reminds me of one of my favorite movie quotes:

Malcolm: "God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates Man. Man creates dinosaurs."
Sattler: "Dinosaurs eat man...Woman inherits the earth."



I kept thinking the whole time that the survivors probably had the same thing that people who (theoretically) survived the plague and are immune against HIV. Their cells don't have the receptacles that those kind of viruses enter in.
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:47 PM   #30
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Woman inherits the earth?

Hey Richard! There's the title for the next book in the series!
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