i have a particular fascination with first novels, probably stemming from a fondness for my own first novel, which i wrote over summer vacation when i was 17yrs old.  it was an epic fantasy about twin warrior sisters and their relationship.  looking back on it more recently, i saw that it was quite awful at the sentence level, but the story idea is interesting and i still hope to save it into publishable form someday.  writing my first novel was life-changing, so i was curious about other authors’ experiences and decided to ask a few of them about their firsts.  here’s what they had to say:

Adam Roberts says:

My first completed novel (there’s a wilderness of abandoned drafts compacted into the “first completed” part of that phrase) was a dour little science fiction text called The Soul Transporters.  It managed to be gloomy, pretentious and shallow, all at once.  It has never been published.  Indeed, I have deposited all remaining copies of the manuscript in a time machine and sent them back in time to the impact site of the meteorite that finished off the dinosaurs, just to be sure.  My second completed novel, Salt, was published.  It is a little better.

Cinda Williams Chima says:

I wrote my first novels in junior high school.  I guess you’d call them romances.  My friends and I were all characters in them.  At the time, I had a much more exciting life in fiction than at Cloverdale Junior High.  The novels were never published.  I still have some of those stories, and enough time has passed so that I’m no longer embarrassed by them.  In fact, I can hear the first faint echoes of my writer’s voice in them.  Plus, if I ever want to revisit my fourteen-year-old self, I can.

I returned to novels when my sons were thirteen and sixteen.  We all loved fantasy, and I thought it would be cool to write something they would enjoy reading.  I had this idea about a high school student in Ohio who discovers he’s among the last of a race of magical warriors.  He’s being hunted by wizards who want to play him in a live-action tournament to the death.  That became my first published novel, The Warrior Heir.  It was the first in a series.  The fourth book in the series, The Enchanter Heir, comes out October 22, 2013.  There’s more information about me and my books at www.cindachima.com  and www.facebook.com/CindaWilliamsChima.

Hugh Howey says:

My first novel was Molly Fyde and the Parsona Rescue.  It was published by a small press called NorLights.  Writing a novel had been a dream of mine since I was very young, and I’ll never forget the rush of completing the story and realizing I had written a very long piece with an actual plot.  It was a book.  I’d written a book!

The next great milestone came when I held a proof copy of said book.  I saved the box until my wife got home.  Some friends came over with a bottle of champagne.  I didn’t care how many copies I would ever sell.  I didn’t care if I wrote one more book in my life or a hundred.  All I remember is feeling a weight off my shoulders.  Something I’d wanted to do for over two decades — a dream that hung over me and nagged at me — was now real.  Whatever came next would never change the fact that I’d written a book.

This is why I encourage aspiring writers to push through to the end of their story.  It’s like climbing a mountain.  Once you see the view from the top, all you want to do is shout down for others to join you.  And then you spot another peak in the distance, another story idea, and off we go.  Let’s do it again.

Michael J. Sullivan says:

My first novel, The Crown Conspiracy, has been published in every way possible: through a small press, self, and now with one of the big-five (retitled as Theft of Swords).  I wrote it after returning from a decade-long writing hiatus (having concluded I’d never get published) and only on the condition that I would never submit it, or anything else, again.  Apparently my wife had other plans, and she made it her mission to “get the books out there.”

I know of only one way to write books, which is to create something that I want to read.  So it’s little wonder that I love Theft of Swords, but to hear praise from readers is a reward beyond measure.  Much of recent fantasy focuses on anti-heroes in settings that are dark and depressing.  My books are a return to more traditional stories where the reader is transported on an adventure with characters they want to spend time with.  Having well rounded characters, shouldn’t mean they have to be cruel or abusive.  Like most “real” people, Royce and Hadrian have regrets, and while they are motivated by their own sense of self-preservation, they can still rise to the occasion and do what must be done.  At the end of the day, I prefer my entertainment to be escapist and to feel good about my time spent.  Luckily for me there seem to be enough people who also feel this way, allowing me to live my dream of writing full-time.

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what about you?  have you read these first novels?  or have you written a first novel as well?  share below!

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