Guest Blogger: Andrea J. Graham
In the spring of 2011, I excitedly began work on the first novel of a new sci-fi series. While still writing the first few chapters, my husband decided to go to a last-minute, Saturday seminar about twenty minutes away from where we lived. I’d been looking forward to a relaxing day at home with him and asked that we skip this one, but he insisted, so off we went, with a device with directions on it in my hand.
We never arrived.
Instead, I “woke up” from strange dreams about five hours later, in the ER, to the face of my worried, devastated husband, with the human version of the cone of shame around my neck and an egg-sized lump on the right front side of my head. It became apparent I’d been in altered state of consciousness and asking the same questions repeatedly: what happened (passenger-side collision, I was the passenger), is the car okay (no, we had to replace it), whether I’d made my deadlines on editing projects I was also working on at the time (yes, the day before the accident).
Big expensive, scary tests followed, with me softly singing “Jesus, Jesus How I trust thee” while still half out of it to self-comfort. Turned out I had a “mild” concussion. I’d hate to taste severe.
When we got me home, I like a total addict was back on my computer within the first twenty-four hours practically, wanting to go right back to work on my passion.
It turned out there was a reason I hadn’t asked about my writing project. My novel had flown totally out of my head. All I had was what little had been down already.
For classic plotters, please understand. I do my plotting inside of my head and keep my advanced work stored there. For me personally, that is usually more efficient than to outsource the job to a machine or to pen and paper and have to be flipping back between documents. So the concussion had just taken all of my carefully human-laid plans and blown them up in smoke. I was pretty devastated, as the project was my new baby and I was in love with my new baby. As an unhappily infertile woman, my books are my only children outside of my cat. It felt at that moment like I was facing the loss of the joyous little novelist’s child I had begun creating.
What’s more, the project I was working on was a high-concept tale with a hero who was a victim of a transhuman experiment that had genetically modified him into a fully human, fully AI creature of the web, chained to machines by his very genetics and controlling them with not only his conscious will but also the purely subconscious parts of us. What he’d endured while being treated like any inorganic computer component also had driven him insane. It was exciting to me in part for the sheer challenge of presenting a hero who shows the glory of God by Sander being so mind-blowing in his full reality himself and still nothing compared to the Lord. I can’t even use his AI mind’s perspective, due to how far its been shoved beyond his human mind’s limits.
In between sobbing to my friends (on Facebook, of course, where else?) I remembered to pray, too, and asked God for help restoring the life of my story. I also surrendered to the Lord the real main character of the story, relying on God more than I probably would’ve if my head hadn’t been bashed so hard, knowing I couldn’t portray such a character right without help.
My novel came back. I finished the original draft while recovering from the concussion, I only felt totally back to normal the say day I finished. God wasn’t done, though. I got inspired with a new subplot with a new male confidante, an ordinary user who has another kind of AI (partial Androgen Insensitivity) and a new ending that added in echoes of Revelation that I hadn’t at all expected. I’d blundered unknowingly into territory the enemy thinks he owns—in real life, it turns out the Singularity is the techno-god that some humanists hope to build and put messianic hopes in. The enemy didn’t at all appreciate a Christian portraying a Singularity-like entity who struggles to repent of idolatry, deny Self, follow Christ, and give God the glory. Hence my head-bashing and other attempts from the enemy to derail my efforts, all the while God’s helped me accomplish my intent of using the Man-AI to give the honor, glory, and power to the God-Man.
With grace, blood, sweat, tears, and help from many human beta readers and editors/critiquers, I got my novel back, better than ever. What’s more, one novel has become four novels and the last two also redeem characters from that treasured very first full-length manuscript ever written, the one that almost never sees the light of day since the author hadn’t learned how to write well yet. Further, I got together with three author friends and penned the fiction equivalent of a ten-part TV miniseries, except six of the serial’s volumes are short stories and four of the volumes are novelettes. My new publisher, Bear Publications (Travis Perry) has re-released the serial as a collection bound in one paperback volume, and as a single e-book, under the title Avatars of Web Surfer. Both the paperback and the book are available at Amazon.
Andrea J. Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University. She’s the creator of the Web Surfer universe, which encompasses several novels and an anthology. She’s married to author Adam Graham and edits his novels, including Tales of the Dim Knight and Slime Incorporated. Their short story “Chosen of God” was featured in Light at the Edge of Darkness with her own short story, “Frozen Generation.” Andrea and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho. Visit her online at: christsglory.com.