It’s been a very long time since I wrote my last post – well over a year in fact.
The usual suspects were the culprits; too busy with work and updating my portfolio (hurray, now live). I’ve also been beavering away on a very time-consuming, personal project: The Wrath of the Four Horsemen, a book I’ve written under a pen name, Algie Kreake.
Rewind six years
First of all, let’s rewind to September 2007.
I had just started salvage chemotherapy for relapsed testicular cancer. The little bastard had come back in the lungs barely three months after finishing the previous chemo. Because my daughters were very young at the time (both under five years old) I decided to keep a journal for them to read when they were older – just in case…
As the treatment progressed, the journal took a different path, but I won’t go into detail as I’ve already written a post on the Algie Kreake website: The story behind The Wrath of the Four Horsemen. However, to give a flavour of the story, the following is an extract from the synopsis:
‘What starts out as a straightforward journal soon transforms into a journey; a race deep into every recess of the mind as he desperately tries to make sense of his own life and the modern-day world. It’s a journey like no other; fantasy and reality become woven together to create a story full of surprises, juicy characters and the indomitable Plastic Santa. Imagine The Matrix, The Fast Show and Casualty blended together in a food mixer with a big dollop of satire and black humour spooned in.’
Once the treatment was over and I had sufficiently recovered, I transferred all my notes to the laptop and set about the task of re-writing, deleting, expanding and coercing the fragmented pieces into a fully-fledged coherent story. This process was very stop-start, stop-start for five years as during that time I also took the plunge and went freelance, which, naturally, had to take priority.
I’ve used a pen name because the story is essentially about someone else. Even though it happened to me, I created an alter ego and used him to carry my burden (a type of creative visualisation). Algie Kreake was chosen because the name conjured up an image of a slightly worn-out, middle-aged man stuck in a bygone age – hang on! That’s pretty much me anyway.
Lost in space
The book is almost finished and weighs in at a shade over 97,000 words. It’s being proofread at this moment and, barring a few tweaks, should be finished very soon.
After one late-night writing stint I had a ‘Lost in Space’ moment – what happens when the book is finally finished?
My daughters won’t be old enough to read the book – and fully comprehend it – for at least another five years. After so much blood, sweat and tears (literally in this case) I want people to read the story. We are all natural storytellers, and we need an outlet one way or another.
I decided to go down the self-publishing road and, vanity aside, try to raise some funds (I already donate some of my fees from calligraphy projects) and awareness for cancer charities in the process.
Awesome cancer charities
Orchid Cancer Charity are a London-based cancer charity set up to save men’s lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancers through a range of support services, pioneering research and promoting awareness. They were an obvious choice as they funded the research into my treatment (GAMEC).
A couple of months ago I discovered The Robin Cancer Trust (based not far from me in Colchester), set up in memory of Robin Freeman, who sadly died from germ cell cancer in 2011. I was deeply moved after reading his story and also by the bravery of his family in starting the charity. Although four years apart, I found out that we had both been through GAMEC chemotherapy on the same ward and under the same consultant at St Barts in London.
Design and marketing
In tandem with the writing process, I’d been drawing various characters, scenes and landscapes (to help me visualise the story) along with a calligraphic identity for the book title. Using both illustrations and calligraphy, I designed a book cover and cobbled together an animated trailer using an ancient version of Flash. The style is almost comic book (although the book itself is a novel) as I felt this not only portrayed the fantasy element of the book – which takes over as the story progresses – but also mirrored my attitude.
I buried my head in the sand; I abstracted my hopes and fears; I retreated to a world of satire, sarcasm and black humour – whatever it took to get through. I had no interest in the technicalities. In fact, I didn’t even know what my type of testicular cancer was until recently when I realised it wasn’t mentioned in the book (I had to dig out a letter from the hospital and work it into the story).
The original aim was to release the book in December 2013, however, I want to make sure the book has been thoroughly edited and proofread, so the revised date is early (February?) 2014.
Regular updates can be found on Twitter: @AlgieKreake (Hint, nudge, wink, cough.)
In the meantime, I would be most grateful if you could follow @The_RCT_Charity and @orchidcancer. Charities aren’t just about donations – awareness and education are equally as important because they can also save lives; and retweeting is a great way of spreading messages.
Thanks Peeps. And keep in touch.