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Sunday, December 11, 2011

It Takes Magic to Reach the Summit

by Bem le Hunte

Would it be far-fetched to say that I relied on magic to get my first novel published? Perhaps not. I wrote The Seduction of Silence in one of those potent 'anything is possible' moments of my life, and with real conviction. Previously I'd always intended to write a novel, but the magic of making that mountain come to me somehow never worked! It was cripplingly clear that the only thing left for me to do was to go to the mountain - and I did this quite literally. Within a few weeks of setting my sights on the summit of a complete novel, I sacked my writing clients and my job teaching at UTS, and left for India with the dream of living somewhere humble in the foothills of the Himalayas - basically to find the time to write.

The journey to the hills was so inspiring that it found narrative form in The Seduction of Silence, which immediately took off on a sublime flight of fancy into the realms of magical realism, with the majestic Himalayas as its backdrop. The novel, which followed the story of five generations of an Indian family, was a gift that came rushing out of me, insistent to take life with or without my cooperation. The bulk of the novel was written in six months, sometimes with a gush of 5,000 words a day - a torrent so fast that I loved sitting down in front of the computer every morning, simply so that I could receive my 'gifts' for the day - discover what happened next to the characters who took on a life of their own.

Bem le Hunte
And to this day the characters have enjoyed a life of their own. Only yesterday I was sent an article from a Polish newspaper about a woman with multiple sclerosis who had read The Seduction of Silence and had set off to India to find my protagonist - magical healer and venerated sage, Aakash, who ran an ayurvedic farm in the foothills where I stayed. (Apparently, she actually found him - and now I want to discover where I can meet him in his re-incarnated state!)

The novel has left a miraculous trail of events like this in its wake, from the earliest moment when it was sold at auction, to the time it was promoted as the 'publishing event of the year' and then when the reviews and readers' letters started to arrive. However, perhaps the earliest miracle was the most profound: the realisation that I would need a lot more than just good intentions to write my novel. My intention alone was like having an arrow without a bow. By writing The Seduction of Silence and my two following novels I've discovered the art of pulling back that bow and actually launching the arrow.

The next potent 'gift' that has come out of writing three novels is the opportunity to share what I've learned with other writers - including the most magical art of getting a publication out there with or without the help of a publisher - something I am currently exploring at great depth, given the changing publishing landscape. My next novel, I hope, will be an equally magical experience, shared with a group of committed writers who are going produce a novel in a year. You'll all be invited to the party at the end of 2012 when we publish our excerpts and launch our work together at the summit. We hope you can join us!

Bem Le Hunte has published two novels: The Seduction of Silence and There, Where the Pepper Grows. The Seduction of Silence was released as the 'Harper Collins Publishing Event of the Year,' became an international bestseller and was shortlisted for The Commonwealth Writer's Prize.A

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