Delighted to report that, years and thousands of lives later, I have clawed back the audio rights from Macmillan to my very first novel. More good news is that I also managed to secure the outrageous talent, unfailing good humour, and faultless professionalism of the amazing Matthew Crow Voice Talent and Audiobook Narrator, to both perform and engineer this bad boy!
The meaning of life hidden on a deviously encrypted web site.
And several dozen heavily armed guys with serious existential issues.
The hunt is on for THE MANUSCRIPT.
The Manuscript is a philosophical cyber-thriller a novel of huge ideas disguised as a blow-your-hair-back thrill ride. Its cast of unforgettable characters includes a gun-toting urban professional with a tragic weakness for Internet discussion groups; a former chemistry student and hacker turned wildly successful online narcotics dealer; a pair of slacker post-grads with big questions and rapidly escalating problems; a demonstrably unstoppable hitman; a dodgy federal agent with his hands in the cookie jar up to both elbows; a nameless cadre of menacing and well-armed mercenaries (possibly in the employ of one of the world's major religions); and an entire gang of Angry Young Taoists, serenely blasting hell out of all and sundry.
What could bring a group like this together? Nothing less than the meaning of life discovered in the remote highlands of South America by an infamous 19th-century explorer, and now said to be hidden in the vast out-of-bounds spaces at the far edge of a shadow Internet. This is the Manuscript.
Caught up in a perilous race to recover and control it are a group of young people so beset by existential unease that they are willing to risk death to know the truth; and others, backed by powerful interests, who have little compunction about killing to keep it hidden. Get ready for an ungentle ride where a number of people will get enlightened, a few will get rich, and all too many will get dead. Along the way, be prepared for some uncommon commentary on the eternal verities, computer security, rules for gunfights, post-millennial information soot, and the possibility of human connection for a generation that believes in nothing save what they read on the Net.
Equally in the good news category, is that, if you're not yet an Audible listener, you can download and listen to this title absolutely free, with an equally free Audible 30-day trial! Yipee!
I mean, of course I had absolutely no idea what I was doing and there's no reason whatsoever to expect a first-time novelist to have any idea. And I guess it's nice to think I'm improving, and my standards are going up. But man! (And, also, to think that I not only spent two years writing this book… and not only four more years trying to fix it… but actually pinned my hopes for a writing career on it for an entire decade! Gah!)
Even more depressingly, it's also occurred to me that might be the reason this book was the (first and) last one I actually enjoyed writing because I was doing it in large measure to entertain myself.
To close the traditional s&%* sandwich in the customary way, allow me to say that there are some people who've always liked this book. And, much more importantly, Matthew Crow's performance of the material is absolutely brilliant. He just nails everything, brings it all completely to life including and in particularly my semi-autobiographical protagonist manages to keep the voices of the proverbial cast of thousands interesting and distinct, and does slam-bang action like nobody's business. He even nailed all the email and text exchanges. It's genuinely a blast to listen to, and I even I managed to enjoy it for some longish stretches.
So I very much hope that's enough to induce you to ignore my personal queasiness over my fumbling first time out, and to give this bad boy truly impressive as an audiobook a try. Also, god knows, Matthew emphatically deserves the support, after the outrageous amount of effort and talent he put into this thing. (Thanks, man!)