Author Post by Mac Altgelt

Inspiration. Process. Disappointment.

As a debut author, I don’t mind admitting that I was slightly intimidated when asked to create a blog post covering simply a “subject of my choosing”, while to me it seemed the obvious goal must be to achieve greater visibility for my forthcoming novel.  Surely then, promotion was to be the subject, right?  Actually no, said they, you can write about dishwashers if you want.  Scratching my head, I observed to myself just how little this advice accomplished in the way of assuaging my concern.  However, feeling my inexperience as an author to be approaching a little too close to the surface for comfort and threatening to expose me for the fraud I undoubtedly was, I feigned comprehension and asked no more.  

The truth is that, strictly speaking, I am not a debut author.  I have been published before.  To say the contract was traditional, however, is perhaps a bit of a stretch.  In a technical sense, it was traditional in that I did not pay to have it done, nor was I obligated to buy anything afterwards.  The problem was that nobody else paid anything either, not least the would-be readers upon whom I relied for success.  So concluded the exciting chapter, forgive the pun, of my initiation into that coveted and exclusive club of published writers.  It was underwhelming, but had a charm reminiscent of childhood (and all the naivety inherent therein).

When in the wee hours of one early morning I awoke from a dream, the complexity and vividity of which still astonishes me today, and jotted down its essence so as not to lose it back to the realm of sleep from whence it had come, I never would have dared to guess that from it a complete novel would be born.  Why I even bothered to write it down I still don’t know with any degree of certainty.  Time dragged on as time invariably does in the days and months that followed, and nothing had been done in service of the great dream.  Gradually, and due perhaps in part to the diminishing recollections I maintained at that point with regard to the dream itself, I decided to write a short story based on the notes I had taken on that fateful night.

The process started off simply enough, my verbose style coming through in true form and echoing a far-less talented version of Proust.  This early draft would, of course, have to later be scrapped due to its overly ambitious language that served only to inspire nausea in its readers, as might an excessively sweet candy.  

Obstacle overcome, and progress ensuing, it soon became clear that there was more to the story than could responsibly be confined in a mere short.  As I am what’s called in the writing world a “planter”, my story grew quite of its own accord once I started writing.  I had at my disposal a simple 1-page story outline, on which each bullet point inevitably lent itself to a full chapter in the text itself.  Once the purpose of the chapter had been established, it fell to me only to move the story along to its predetermined end by whatever means I fancied.  This unstructured approach, perhaps unsurprisingly, led the story far from its original syllabus and into territories that had never been foreseen.

Thus, IN THE BEAST’S CAGE slowly came to quiet fruition.  Drafts and edits followed, along with long periods of a stubborn unwillingness on my part to accept the sound advice of editors, viewing as I did their suggestions for bettering the narrative as an affront to my artistic vision.  In the end, I bent, and it was the right decision to do so.  For sentimental reasons, I have preserved my original drafts, but I admit now with dignified humility that the story of today easily triumphs over the story as it had been.

In retrospect, all of this led me to understand that this process is full of disappointment, rejection, and compromise.  It would be foolish to think such things would not apply to any aspiring writer.  It requires diligence, and an uncommonly strong constitution.  The important thing for carrying on is that one must never lose confidence in their own work, and in this they will surely be tested beyond what’s humane.  It is a veritable Pandora’s Box of despondency and distress, but we are fortunate to retain that most precious of gifts with which we just might persevere: hope.    

In The Beasts Cage.

Harbouring a dark secret from his past, immortal Lord Blake from medieval England arrives mysteriously in a sleepy coastal town in Georgia, USA. There he meets Hugo Wegener, an ex-doctor who is burdened with his own dark secret, and life-long resident Ginny Harrison, who is involved in her aging father’s absurd dream of refurbishing and reopening the town’s long-defunct zoo. As Blake’s relationship with Ginny blooms, he finds himself involved in the insane zoo project and, when Bruce Kelly, an exotic game smuggler from South Africa, arrives in town on the eve of the grand reopening with a plan to rid the zoo of its valuable animal species, it is up to Blake, Hugo, and the old man to stop him, without revealing the terrible secrets of their pasts.

Author Biography

I am a Risk Management executive and Investor in Texas but I moonlight as a writer, short-film maker, musician, composer and world traveller (or, I was a world traveller in the pre-COVID days). In music, I have released 2 full-length albums (one of which is still available) and 2 E.P.s. I have published one humor book entitled 101 TIPS AND REVELATIONS FROM A MODERN DAY CYNIC (Black Rose Writing, 2017). IN THE BEAST’S CAGE is my first novel, but I have a second already in progress and no plans of slowing down. I have also written countless blogs, poems, short stories, essays and movie scripts in addition to my more sprawling fiction projects. Because of my work in the Risk Management industry, I spend a great deal of time in London working closely with Lloyd’s and can be found in that country often as a result. I have a wife (Alejandra) and two children, a 3-year-old daughter (Sophia) and a 1-year-old son (Otto) who was born in the midst of this pandemic. My wife is a dual-citizen of Mexico and Spain and had been living in London for 2 years prior to us meeting.

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