Mesozoic is now published and that particular project has finished. There is, of course, a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment when a book is completed and put out there for the reading public to enjoy, but what does an author do immediately after that? I do not know about other writers but I like to go back and revisit one of my earlier books. There can be various reasons for doing this, such as having a reader point out an error or a spelling mistake or just a feeling that a particular scene could be improved with a bit of a revision.
Eugenica is probably the most personal book that I have written to date. Although a work of fiction and set in an alternate 1930’s much of the inspiration for it came from my own personal experiences. In fact, one of the characters in the book is actually me. He uses my middle name and he has one of the medical problems that I suffer from. Short of writing something autobiographical I do not think that I could get more personal. Perhaps because this book contains so much of me as a person I find its lack of attention even more keenly. The fact is that the book has not done as well as I had originally hoped. In retrospect, I cannot help thinking that part of the reason for this is that the central characters, Grace, Tom, Mary, and Hector are all disabled in one way or another. People generally do not find the disabled attractive. Indeed, there remains an undercurrent of prejudice against the disabled even today.
Stating such a thing is not a revelation. One of the points of inspiration for the book was my own experience of actual verbal assault and insult during a time when the British government was using a complicit media to demonise the disabled prior to removing their benefit payments. Effectively, the government was robbing them of their sympathy first before then robbing them of their monies that disability rights campaigners had fought for decades to win. In some respects, Eugenica was an attempt on my part to achieve some kind of balance, that is why there are four disabled young people at the heart of the story. They are not superhuman and they are not objects of pity. They are people with additional problems to contend with as well as those that I, as the author, task them with.
I really wanted to show that the human spirit can rise above most of the troubles that beset us. Although the story of a Britain under eugenic rule appears quite a harrowing prospect, and all the evidence that exists suggest that it would indeed have been, Eugenica is, in my opinion, an uplifting tale. The conclusion is open-ended and full of promise. Everyone who has read this book and communicated with me has said as much. One reader who had a severely disabled step-daughter told me that they thought everyone should read Eugenica so as to get a more realistic impression of the disabled as people.
In revisiting Eugenica my intent is not to try and discover why people who look at it do not become readers. I am merely looking over the manuscript to spot errors that crept into the 160,000 plus words that make it the longest book that I have ever written. Some might see this as a chore, and I can understand that, but revisiting Eugenica in this fashion has proven to be a lot of fun. I still like the story and all four of the main characters. I enjoy the nostalgia of the 1930’s setting, the flashy cars, and elegant clothes, as well as the Art Deco architecture and decoration even if it exists mostly in my mind. Rereading the book confirms my faith in it again. Eugenica might not prove to be the most commercially successful book that I have written but in many respects, it remains one of the most satisfying. I still believe that its day will come, that someone will discover it and talk about it and the word will get out there. I am not interested in vast royalty payments, as nice as that would be, but rather in the fact that I might, through writing such a book, do my bit to help disabled people come closer to being seen as just people.