Joab was a different experience than writing any of my other novels for one simple reason: there was only one voice dictating in my head rather than a host of characters. Just after Joab appeared in print, I wrote a blog about hearing voices. As a writer of fiction, I think I might be in the majority as regards hearing voices; but as for the rest of humanity, I suspect most are too engaged in gross stimulation of one sort or another to even be aware of inner voices…but who really knows? I can only speak for myself.
In many ways, Joab was a long time in the making. I first became aware of Joab when, as a graduate student, I presented a paper dealing with keys points in David’s life and kingship. Close attention to the text of 1&2 Samuel brought Joab to my attention–front and centre. It became patently clear that without Joab, David’s kingship would have fizzled out shortly after it began. (Read the books of Samuel yourself, with the focus on Joab and you’ll see what I mean.) Since that time I have lectured about various aspects of the books of Samuel, as well have gone over these texts with advanced Hebrew students. Nevertheless Joab remained patient and quiet.
Then came the time Joab could remain silent no longer. I had finished about 80% of my fifth novel, Dirty Business, when Joab started speaking. I sat up and took notice. His first words to me were: “We all live two lives–the one we are given, like yours, right now, and the life of memory–such as mine.” I jotted these words on a pad and they later became the opening sentence of Joab. The problem for me was the fact that, once he had started speaking, Joab was reluctant to stop. I often begged him to wait just a short while and I would give him my full attention–but to no avail. I also learned that Joab was not inclined to repeat his words, so when he spoke, I had to capture his words immediately. Thus I began Joab’s story whilst finishing my eco-crime novel.
When the time arrived that I could give my full attention to Joab, his story came fluidly; and when he finished speaking, the story ended as quickly as it had begun. As I write these words, it was almost exactly one year ago that I finished Joab–or rather, he finished with me. Since then I haven’t written one word of fiction. I mention this fact because I had five novels accepted for publication in just under three years–a rather ‘writingful’ three years at that. It’s also the case that the inner voices have gone silent and–other than taking note of this major change–I have simply got on with other things, without worrying about it. After all, one can’t force visitors to stay.