One of the panels I’m scheduled to be on at Denvention 3, the World Science Fiction Convention in Denver August 6 to 10, is called “Writers reading from their juvenalia.” Juvenalia is defined by Merriam-Webster as “compositions produced in the artist’s or author’s youth.”
But not everyone who reads this blog will be in Denver. And so, just so you don’t miss out, I present a taste of what you could hear, if only you were coming: the openings to the three novels I wrote in high school, essentially one each in Grades 10, 11 and 12 (although there was a certain amount of overlap).
First up: a book I began on September 5, 1973, when I was 14 years old and had just started Grade 10 at Western Christian College:
The sun rose slowly over the misted hills of Solonia, casting long shadows across the road, sending an eerie twilight creeping slowly back from the high cliffs on the opposite side of the valley of the Prall. Far below the road, at the bottom of a deep gorge, the Prall River flowed swiftly toward Lagon, far in the north.
Lagon was the arch-enemy of Solonia. Solonia, trading with the barbarian city-states, had encroached on territories in the Desert of Coran that Lagon considered its own. Negotiations slowed--broke down--stopped. Soon after that Lagon had declared war on Solonia. That was the First Lagonian War.
When both countries had devastated each other and neither one would surrender, the war ground to a halt. But nearly a hundred years later, Lagon, fully replenished, had determined to take over the barbarian countries between Solonia and Lagon. Solonia had been sworn to defend the barbarians, and thus had begun the Second Lagonian War.
And now Kyle, Master Soldier of the Solonian Empire Militia, was returning as the advance messenger of the Militia, bearing news of Solonia's victory over Lagon.
Can you say “massive info-dump”? (And more followed.)
In Grade 11 I wrote, for the first time, a novel in first-person (the protagonist of which, in a fit of originality, I named “Ed.”) I finished it, according to the cover (all these books are typed and bound in red file folders)on February 28, 1975, when I was 15.
an adventure novel
by Eddie Willett
Chapter 1: Trapped
"Hey, Ed!" came a call from outside my window, and I looked out. Pete Travers stood there. "Come on out!"
"Coming!" I called, and slid my chair back from the desk where I was reading. I ran downstairs and out the back door. "Hi, Pete! What is it?" I knew Pete would have some idea or other--he always had. (But I was always the one who had to take over to carry out his great ideas.)
"Let's go to the dock. My dad's thinking of buying a new boat and he wants me to find some good ones for him."
"Why do you want me?"
"You know more about boats than anyone else I know." He grinned. "Besides, I know you're always willing to go down to the dock."
"You're right. Let's go. Got your bike?"
"Yeah." He went around the corner of the house and I got my three-speed out of the garage. A moment later I joined him and we were riding toward the dock.
Did I have an ear for fascinating, life-like dialogue or what?
Don’t answer that.
And then, in Grade 12, came my magnum opus.
by Eddie Willett
Chapter 1: First Rite
Sunset in Ramoth, viewed over the western foothills of the Kalok Range, is very spectacular. The sun turns the rocks and sky a brilliant orange while it, a blazing yellow disk, sinks below the horizon. During the lonax season, when the lonax pollen fills the air with fragrant dust, the sun takes on an incredible violet hue. This is when the Lonax Festival is held in Ramoth.
The Lonax Festival is held in the mountains, from the Rall River in the north to the Shaymar Gorge in the south, the northern and southern boundaries of Ramoth. All the people of the plains who are able attend the Festival, leaving only the ill, the old, and a platoon of guard soldiers behind.
I had been looking forward to the Lonax Festival the year this all began, because it was at the Festival each year that the First Rite was performed--the Rite that every boy went through to initiate him into his five-year period of training for war. At the end of that five-year period, he would go through the Second Rite, which ushered him into manhood.
That year there were 19 boys to go through the First Rite at our Festival Site in the area of the mountains directly west of Soltan, our city on the coast. I was one of those nineteen.
And so I stood with the others, bathed in violet light from the setting sun, awaiting the beginning of the Rite.
He’s awaiting it? He’s got nothing on the reader…
Tomorrow: Juvenalia action scenes and then (if I can find any) romance!
Hold onto your seats!
Or, possibly, your lunch.