I wrote my first book at twenty-nine, not because I wanted to so much as I had to. It started a decade earlier when I was at Art College. We’d been given an assignment based on the theme “Let there be Light” and as I sat painting the moment of creation as a spectrum… an idea took hold. What if there was a world where such an idea was blasphemy? Where colours were considered evil?
It might have stayed at that level, if I hadn’t dreamt of “him”; a man so vivid that he paced through my dream and into my reality. I wrote out the dream and I painted his face. I even drew the layout of the building he lived in. For several years that multi-coloured flash of inspiration was nothing more than a folder of sketches and copious amounts of rainbow-coloured, abstract meanderings. But the ideas burned and itched inside me.
Eventually, one Christmas holiday, I faced my brand new computer (black and white, dos program) and transferred that dream into a word doc. It would become the first page of my first book and that man would still be striding through the sequel I would write a decade later.
A lot changed between those two books. Mostly myself. I may have set my main character on a road of awakening, but it turned out to be me who was shaken awake. I’d hoped to write books that changed the way people saw the world and in return was changed by the things I wrote. What more could any writer ask for?
When I finished my first book, I printed it out and put it away in a wardrobe. I had no overblown optimism about it ever being published. At the time, I was living in South Africa, which did not have any publishers willing to take a book that did not fit any mainstream genre. I was told firmly that my book was science fiction and they did not dabble in that.
Was it science fiction? It was set on a different world, that’s true, but only because the story line would not work in our reality. It had no space travel, no speculative future science. In fact, it barely had science at all! The protagonist was a monk in a monastery, not a space traveller. Was it fantasy? Hardly! It had dungeons without dragons, miracles without magic and absolutely not one elf anywhere. It did hold a mystery, but even that was more of a quest.
For years I felt embarrassed trying to explain the genre. I eventually discovered steampunk and went with that. Close enough, given the technology and society. I did finally manage to have my book published in the early 2000s, but took it over and republished it myself a few years later. That is a story best summed up as “not all publishers are equal.” Be careful who you sign up with and make sure you keep the rights to your own words.
During that time, I had gathered a few book fans who began nagging for a sequel. I truly thought that would never happen. I had no idea how to take the story line further. At that time I was employed to write elsewhere whilst satisfying my own creative needs with a blog or two. It was my home blog that set me back on track. I’d been busy writing a blog post about the inspirational power of music when a sentence hit me. I’d written,
“Is faith merely (re)learning how to dance on water?
Was the world created in seven days or seven notes?”
Seven notes and seven colours to the spectrum of light… I had the theme for my sequel.
I spent most of 2013 on that book and finally had it ready to publish in early 2014, but I still had no idea what genre to put it under. Then one day in 2014, a few months after I’d published the sequel, my husband called me over and said, “You need to look at this. This is your books.” He was pointing at the page for the Visionary Fiction Alliance. As I read through their website I felt relief and joy. My books finally had a genre that made sense: Visionary Fiction.
I had written my first book in a burning burst of inspiration over one Christmas holiday. The sequel was a completely different type of fire. This one was to be the phoenix funeral pyre of all that I was and all my assumptions of everything about myself. This second book changed me and instead of being merely visionary fiction it became the fiction that set free the visionary. It still awes me, in many ways it frightens me. That book has themes and undertones I never imagined or set into place. It breathes and draws life from its own source. I was merely the midwife.
In 2015, a reader asked me, “What next?” I told her that I had no idea, but that I suspected that any third book would once again be something unexpected. And I was right. In 2017, I was pressed to publish a completely different type of book. This one is the visionary without the fiction.
Book three started as a series of emails to a charming-but-sceptical friend. He wanted to understand how I had managed to navigate my improbable life with such humour and (reasonable) sanity. By the time I’d written 42 emails he was saying, “This should be a book.” My autobiography was the easiest book to write and hardest to place up for sale. I don’t particularly like being visible. I worked as a newspaper columnist briefly and the fact they had my photo in the paper gave me emotional indigestion. Thankfully, my random visionary life story is turning out to be very popular with readers worldwide. And once again I’m being made to change and grow.
I can’t wait to find out what any future book four will do to me.
Michelle Frost was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia/Zimbabwe. She is the author of two novels, First Light and Wisdoms of the Light. She won second place in the 2001 Klein Karoo Arts Festival for the visionary sci-fi short story No More Empty Faces and won second place in the 2010 John Muir Trust Wild Writing competition for Leap of Faith.
She has worked as a librarian, blogger, commercial artist, astrologer, review writer and advice columnist. Her autobiography, Elephant Songs, is about her mystic experiences as a seer and empath.
Michelle now lives in Moray, Scotland with her family.
Find her at her Goodreads page
or her website, Crow’s Feet