I wrote the first draft of The Thirteenth Hour the summer after I graduated from high school. Writing it took about two months. I remember it being a kind of pressured process; I had all these ideas floating around in my head, and it was almost a relief to get them down on paper just so they were somewhere else. I didn’t think about publishing it and can’t say I had a specific audience in mind other than myself – it was simply a story that I wanted to read but had never quite found.
While I was writing the first draft, I drew pictures in a sketchbook, some of which ultimately made their way into the finished version of the novel. Because I had created a whole world in my head by that point, text alone didn’t seem like it would be enough. Some of my favorite books as a child were those that had hand drawn pictures scattered throughout the pages, and I knew I wanted visuals to add to the text. Actually, what I had really wanted was video – whole scenes that played out like movies with full motion and sound.
I envisioned a sort of book that could be read as any ordinary one – with a cover, paper pages, and so forth, but when it came time for the pictures, the reader could press a button on the page, and a whole movie would play out on a flexible LCD screen built right into the page. Of course, nothing like that existed then (and still doesn’t, as far as I know), so I had to settle for static, drawn pictures. Although there were people doing digital art at the time, for the most part, that was still pretty new, and I didn’t know much about it, so stuck to traditional pencil and pen on paper. However, I did use a scanner, which was fairly new technology (at least for our family), to import my pictures into the text.
At the end of the summer, I printed the manuscript out double sided in book-sized pages, made a cover, and bound it so it looked like a book. I remember it being under 200 pages. I showed it to my family, my first test audience, who read it and suggested I publish it one day. It would be years before I would seriously consider it, but at that moment, I was content to hold that finished product in my hands, knowing that it was something I had created.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to appreciate the satisfaction that comes from having your work look different at the end than it does in the beginning. It’s not something that happens in a lot of work we as humans do, because frankly, sometimes, at the end of the day, there is no difference, or things look worse, and you wonder why you bothered. But at the end of that summer, I didn’t really know all that yet. I just knew that it was a great feeling to have finished something I had wanted to do for so long. Of course, that was just the beginning, but it’s what carried me forward in all the iterations, editions, and additions that the book has had since then.
-Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpcIUpwTiFY
-Free itunes podcast of the book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-thirteenth-hour-audio/id955932074
-Read free excerpts at https://medium.com/@13thhr/in-the-army-now-852af0d0afc0 and the book’s amazon site.