A Chair Between The Rails: Origins

While we wait for Kickstarter to approve my project (I wasn’t prepared for that!), I thought I would tell you a little about the origins of A Chair Between The Rails. I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free.

Summer of 2012, I was out of work. I took a job at a local music store, working under the store’s psychotic former manager. After getting to know him a bit, I began to realize that his alarming thought patterns matched those of the main character in a novel that I had abandoned the year before. Finding inspiration in the pain this man caused me, I set out to rewrite the novel.

The germ of that story, originally titled Distant Eden, took shape in 2007. An early draft struggled to find its rhythm and died after a few chapters. A second draft was completed in Fall of 2008, but turned out to be overly cumbersome. (At the time, I was obsessed with writing long books for the glory of authorhood. I was a fool.) In 2011, I started the novel from scratch. I was in design school at the time, training myself to cut paper to tolerances of 1/32 of an inch. Enforcing the same precision on my writing muse, I quickly killed the third draft of Distant Eden with my fear of failure.

From 2009 to 2011, I had worked on The Tower of Babel, which comes chronologically after A Chair Between The Rails. With the failure of the 2011 draft of Distant Eden, I gave up on the story and declared The Tower of Babel to be the first book in the Vaulan Cycle. But it was not to be: readers asked for more backstory, and people who knew the story of Distant Eden encouraged me to get it out there. So I set out again, summer of 2012, to rewrite Distant Eden. This time, it worked. The book will be released November 1, 2013, as A Chair Between The Rails.

Suicide is a resonant theme in A Chair Between The Rails. I’m a little concerned that this may bother people. However, the book settled into its current state not by design, but by me listening to what it had to say. As I delved into what I perceived to be the psyche of my insane coworker, his insanity began to infect my mind as well. I worked it out through writing the novel. The resultant character is James Feckidee, the narrator of A Chair Between The Rails. I cannot apologize for James’s tendencies, nor for the strange way in which they come to fruition (and to redemption) in the story. The book is what it is.

That said, I like to think that the book’s presentation of willful death has something to say to us. Growing that summer in my relationship with my fiancee (now my wife), I began to learn the hard way what it is to die for someone else. Taking this and applying it to the almost constant passage of blaring trainhorns in this city, I stumbled upon the climactic scene in the novel. You can come to your own conclusions from the story, as I don’t really want to go too deep in explaining what is (I hope) a work of art.

A Chair Between The Rails comes chronologically before The Tower of Babel. I’m planning a third and possibly a fourth book, which will bring the Vaulan Cycle to true circular completion. I know this is an ambitious project—a new attempt at myth-making—but I’m up for it.

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