By Yannick Hill

An epic novel about identity in the internet age

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Behind the Scenes

My mum died a few years ago and I’m bringing this up now because after it happened, and I mean in the months immediately after, I experienced the most extraordinary period of creativity, focus and ambition. One day I was me. The next I was me writing Versailles, 2000 words a-day, seven days a week, until it was finished.

The novel isn’t about my mum. There’s no regret in the writing, no sadness. She died young and I remember feeling angry and unlocked at the same time. One day I had nothing, the next I had a title. Versailles. I don’t know why but these things revealed themselves. One after another. A girl on a beach wielding a sword. A 100-room mega-mansion with a giant monitor lizard crawling along its corridors. Mirror-still swimming pools. Locked doors. A nameless kid in a trailer park with a rabbit balanced on his head. A story to be told. I just had to turn up every day to write it.

The novel isn’t about my mum, but grief can feel out-of-body. You see things differently. Versailles was me reporting from this other dimension. At the end of every writing day I’d read it back, and sometimes it wasn’t me. I’m not saying it will always be this way, but writing Versailles was a joy. I wrote it full of love. My heart wide open and these things revealed themselves. The kid with the rabbit on his head, mirror-still swimming pools and the CEO of the internet’s pre-eminent social network, driving in the darkened hills above a nameless city with two king cobras in the trunk of his car.

I’m telling you this because. Something about this process. This list of pledgers. People I know. People I don’t know. You’re all part of the book coming into being. So I thought you deserved some background. I’d rather talk to you like this than explain why I set the book in America, or why I wanted five points of view, or why Casey Baer has a room in his mansion filled floor to ceiling with a cache of drugs and guns, none of which he has any intention of ever using. I’d much rather you read the book, draw your own conclusions, experience it as it was meant to be: an entertainment.

I’m coming up to halfway funded now. The turn-out has been brilliant. This growing list of pledgers. People I know. People who will know me through the stories I tell. In the coming weeks I’m going to open a few more doors in the Versailles mansion. In return it would be amazing if you could let more people know this is happening. Anyone you think might be interested in reading Versailles. Tell them it’s got animatronic dragons and speedboats and hot air balloons and a bit where someone has to climb a mountain made of toys. If each of you could get just one other person to pledge in the coming days and weeks, we’ll be well on our way. xx

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