Today is the official launch date for my fictional Extended Stay novel! In this post, I would like to share my thoughts about the origin of this story and speak briefly about today's release, which I have been looking forward to for more than five long years.
The Origin of Extended Stay
My grandfather died at the end of my junior year in high school. Of course, I already knew that life doesn't have to treat everyone fairly, but I had never actually experienced just how mercilessly cruel this world can be until I looked into his unrecognizing eyes a few days before he passed. After his funeral, I distinctly remember someone saying that “funeral homes will never go out of business, because people always die.”
This quote stuck with me for over a year as I repeatedly kept trying to rationalize my grandfather’s death, which I now recognize to have been an impossible task. The real reason why such an honorable and kind man could be forced to endure such a long and difficult death with Alzheimer’s is simply beyond all understanding. Among the other questions that I dwelt on, I wondered “shouldn't good people receive the happy ending they deserve?” and “Don’t our actions and beliefs play some part in determining our futures?”
I had already written one other novel before this—a terrible story that will never see the light of day—so the idea of somehow turning these questions into a novel occurred to me again and again. But what kind of a story could ever begin to express the great mystery about why people have to die?
When I least expected it, all of my ideas came crashing together into the shape of Extended Stay! I ran out of the shower when this happened, dripping water all over the house as I collected pencils and blank printer paper from my mother’s office. Pages were soon spread all across the kitchen counter as I scribbled down ideas. Luckily, no one else was home, so I remained butt naked the whole time. I was so afraid that I would lose my train of thought, and yet I have never forgotten that moment to this day.
Within 30 minutes, I had written down plot lines for over half of Extended Stay's chapters, which would be about a large group of people discovering, one by one, that they simply could not die no matter how much they deserved or wanted to. It was immediately apparent to me that these characters would begin to lose a sense of direction in their lives without the threat and eventuality of death to keep them focused and in line. They would break laws and do whatever they felt like regardless of how dangerous or immoral their actions became. Thus, Extended Stay would ultimately show why death is a necessary part of human existence through the examination of a fictional world where death could not happen at all.
Today, the accomplishment of having Extended Stay available to the public makes me feel exactly like I did when I was standing in the kitchen with all those ideas swirling in front of me. A little sadness still creeps in, especially in regard to the topic that people have to die and that death is not always a gentle experience. However, I also feel a deep sense of joy at the possibility that our knowledge of death actually makes us better people in the end. Don't people often accomplish more in their short lives than they might ever attempt if there was no reason to hurry and get started? Somehow, this awareness of a genuine reason for the existence of death feels almost as electrifying as having discovered a potion to postpone death itself, if only for a few minutes.
However, if you have not yet read the book, I do not mean for you to expect Extended Stay to be some overly dense philosophical tome about life. It is actually filled with probably 40 different near-death experiences to keep your interest, many of them gruesome or ridiculous. And why shouldn’t it? Isn't life often gruesome or ridiculous? For this reason, as the characters’ plot lines become increasingly outrageous, I sincerely hope that you will enjoy my roller coaster of a book. I certainly had fun writing it!
Looking back, the writing and publishing of Extended Stay has involved more time and projects than I ever expected. Just a few of these projects include the construction of my personal website, numerous social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn), cover art designs, video trailer filming, and seven complete drafts of the novel before it was finally ready for production. Although challenging, each of these tasks have been well worth it in the end.
The Big Release
To begin the big release day, I took a trip to Bradley Central High School to give a few copies to Coach Earl Rowan who was the source of inspiration for the main protagonist in the novel. Without this one truly positive influence in the story, Extended Stay would likely have never come together in the way that it does now. I cannot express how satisfying it was to shake his hand and see that he still speaks and waves his arms about just like I remember him doing all those years ago.
As anyone might expect, I am admittedly sentimental today, and yet it has always been easy for me to become passionate about Extended Stay. In many ways, the novel has become a part of me, especially in the way that I see the world. I never once considered giving up during my journey. The thought of allowing this novel the opportunity to influence other people in the way that it impacted me has been a driving force from beginning to end.
What inspired me to write my first novel, Extended Stay. https://t.co/Ap8CgvROST What inspires your writing?#amwriting— Bradley Cannon (@BradleyJCannon) July 25, 2016
Thank you to everyone for all of your support. You cannot imagine how much I appreciate each and every one of you!
You are now invited to purchase the print or eBook version of Extended Stay at amazon.com. Then, after you read the novel, please take a few minutes to write a brief review on amazon.com and/or goodreads.com. Feedback is greatly appreciated to promote the novel online and also to help me write and publish whichever novel comes next. Rest assured, I have already finished drafts of several (eight!) other projects along the way—there will be another novel!