The road from book concept to
publishing the Sirenne Saga
By Matt Chatelain
As a kid, I craved reading mysteries. Sherlock Holmes was my first character love. Across the Channel, in France, I found my second character love, Arsene Lupin. A gentleman-thief the intellectual equal to Holmes, Lupin was created by Maurice Leblanc. In his second book, 'The Hollow Needle' (available free as kindle, see my website), published in 1908, Leblanc introduced an amazing story of codes and historical treasure, in Etretat, France, a small touristic town, nestled between chalk cliffs on the English Channel.
When I decided, six years ago, to write my first serious novel, I naturally returned to Lupin and to Etretat, building my story around 'The Hollow Needle'. I wanted to have Hitler in the story. Not sure why. I just did. That was the sum total of my inspiration.
The problems began when I started doing research. At first, I didn't even know Etretat was a real place. I didn't know Leblanc lived there. I didn't know secret tunnels had been dug through the cliffs hundreds of years ago. I didn't know Leblanc hid codes in all of his books, tracing a map to Rennes-le-Chateau, Berenger Sauniere's home and the center of 'The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail' controversy.
Bizarrely, the research was also turning up a series of coincidental links to an earlier novel 'The Greyman', an attempt to express my spiritual views in an action format. I did more research. The links solidified. I saw how the two seemingly separate stories could be connected with a couple of bridging books. My series was born.
Trying to find a title for the stories took some time. Many people would find the title of Book One of the Sirenne Saga, 'The Caves of Etretat' too revealing. After all, that's what my main character is looking for. I'm giving away the biggest secret of the book in the title. That's the first mystery you'll encounter. What is Book One really about? The answer can only be found by reading the four books.
Writing the series was, in a way, the result of a lifelong quest for answers to questions such as: Why are we here? Is the world even real? What is it all about? The process of writing the Sirenne Saga was necessary to find my answers. It was also my search for a path in life. I needed to learn if writing was right for me. The series was a formative experience, forging the skills I needed to succeed.
Along the way, characters started talking to me. The story went where it had to, instead of where I wanted. Editing entered the picture, teaching me how to refine my work. Pace appeared. So did my antagonist, the immortal Weissmuller, a serial-killer like no other. The four books clarified into distinct levels. Editing continued.
An unanticipated problem appeared. I could not publish Book One until Book Four was complete, to ensure story continuity. It delayed everything. On the other hand, the series was becoming highly polished. Every sentence had been ripped apart, examined, and reassembled to say exactly what was intended. Nothing was left to chance. Skipping sections in this story is a bad idea.
The series was circular, finishing at the beginning of Book One. Reading could be continued, Book One changed into Book Five by the revelations in the rest of the series. The continual honing had helped me create a non-stop pace, likening the books to a rollercoaster, so filled with twists that nothing was what it seemed. If you think you've got it figured out, think again.
I'd selected a specific agent and sent letters only to her. She refused me every time. However, her refusals were always accompanied with timely advice. They helped me see the problems to my story, or my writing skills. She suggested writing a series was not necessarily a good thing for a starting author. She was probably right. Unfortunately, I was committed.
Since I was a child I had been searching for books that went the distance. Never finding them, I'd written an action/adventure story that, not only went the distance, it took pictures and came back. Unwilling to wait for an interested agent, I decided to go the self-publishing route, intending to publish all four books in 2012. Another pet peeve. I hated waiting for authors to finish writing their series so I could buy their books.
So far, Book One of the Sirenne Saga, 'The Caves of Etretat', is out, available at Kindle as an Ebook, and at Amazon.com as hardcopy (See website for more). Book Two (The Four Books of Etretat) will be out in May 2012 or earlier. Books Three (The One Book of Etretat) and Four (The Greyman), will be out in August/Sept and Oct/Nov respectively.
My website, www.mattchatelain.com, has much more on the series, such as audio excerpts, interviews, various essays about the series, and my bio. It has many extras, such as old audio shows and some short stories. You can also register to a monthly contest to win signed copies of my books.
Thanks for reading about how I wrote the Sirenne Saga. Drop in to my website and let me know what you think of my books.
The Caves of Etretat
by Matt Chatelain
In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of 'The Hollow Needle', by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.
He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the 'Hollow Needle'. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.
'THE CAVES OF ETRETAT' is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.
Entering my room, I approached the small shelf above my bed. I scanned the titles, finding the book easily, to my relief. Removing it from the shelf, I opened it from the back, finding my father’s original note, an old piece of Vellum paper. The tape holding it in place had dried out and yellowed, the glue having become crusty over time. I wondered why my father had done that, knowing we held the same reverence for books.
The thought slipped away when I read the note he had written so long ago:
On the occasion of your ninth birthday, I give you the same book my father gave to me when I was nine. It’s a wonderful story but it is also so much more.
It is the beginning...
The beginning and the end,
Follow the circle, it bends.
The end and the beginning
The answer in the connecting
A real story ends near Etretat
Lost until Paul infers new ideas subtly
You ought understand responsibility,
Necessarily after moiling Etretat
When I had read this note at age nine, I had not grasped my father’s true intent. Today, it seemed obvious that he was signalling the start of a hunt. Something was going on in the town of Etretat and it was connected with this book.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual (How to Open Your Own Used Bookstore), as well as a variety of booklets, such as 'How to Save Money at Home', 'Build a Greenhouse with Style' and the ten booklet series of Eddy Brock, Brockville Detective.
Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within Maurice Leblanc's books.
My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I'm a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I'm good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail oriented. Takes too long to finish anything.
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100003486781507
Matt will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour as well as to the host whose post receives the most comments (excluding his or the host's) during the tour.