Welcome to Hunter Byrd Books, Home of The Road To Welkin
Good day to you, Gentle Visitor, and thanks for coming by. Mostly I'm trying to explain The Road To Welkin and how it came about.
Where to start with this strange story? Well, it started as an erotic romance - and so it is. Only not at all what I'd expected.
The book began as it does now: Austerity escaping the horrors of the cult of Consecration, and deciding to join the curious medicine show, Le Cirque de la Bonne Santé ("The Circus of Good Health"). At the time, I wasn't sure there would actually be a physical Welkin – or rather, I was considering Welkin as the bait that leads her to remake herself from a slave-wife into a fully human woman. It didn't have to be real, it could be a legend that she drew strength from.
See, I had a literary agent who thought I could write a better "Fifty Shades of Grey" as an "adult romance" (i.e., one with explicit sex). And that's what I set out to do. But then things began to change. And when I finished the first book I sent it to her.
But she couldn't sell it. "You have a book with straight, lesbian, and homosexual sex, polyamory as a theme, transgender characters, and nascent communism," she finally told me. "That's not exactly a market for mainstream publishers."
I guess I could have gone back and had Austerity gradually fall in love with Fidéle – the predictable romance between two people who are initially wary. But I had already invested too much – this idea that group marriages and communal societies were intertwined...well, it was too intriguing. So despite having an "unpublishable novel," I kept writing, and by the time I'd gotten her dismissal (she stopped answering emails), I knew I had to self-publish. It's just too compelling an idea: communality and group marriage as a path to the future of humanity.
So what was initially intended to be an "adult romance" became a story of Austerity's discovery of both communal economics and communal sexuality. I've read authors' claims that once the characters are established, they take on a life of their own, but never truly believed it. But where my initial plan was simply to allow Austerity to blossom sexually, it got out of hand. She took over; I don't mean to be woo-woo about it, but somehow her character evolved to the point where I no longer felt the need to "direct" the story. I simply let things happen. (That's a first for me; maybe a good sign.)
In any case, I've queried the book to well over 100 agents. Several have written personal notes back, encouraging me, but pointing out that the market won't support a futurist story with too many strikes against it: tasteful but explicit eroticism, including hetero, homo, bi, trans, hermaphrodite, and particularly polyamory and group marriage (without any sexual profanity). Alas, "Fifty Shades" has not changed the essential conservatism of the publishing industry.
So I'm going to include bits and pieces of the novel. Maybe someone out there will be interested enough to take a look at the whole thing. I'll start today with the first two chapters (warning: they're pretty grim), then add a chapter every few weeks. Yes, there will be problems of continuity, since I'll be skipping stuff in between, but it should give the idea. Ready? Here we go. (CLICK ON THE ROAD TO WELKIN PAGE)
The Road To Welkin is my first futurist novel (I don't think of it as either science fiction or dystopian). I do have a self-published erotic BDSM novel, called The Education of Alice Bloom, which is available on Amazon.
I'm a teacher and student of cultural history, an area which has allowed me to explore the heights – and depths – of human creativity and endeavor. I've explored other aspects through writing a weekly sex-and-intimacy column in a local alternative paper. I'm fascinated by the unlimited possibilities of gender and sexuality as they unfold in the future. Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia E. Butler, and Margaret Atwood all leave me feeling a deeper understanding of love and life. My husband – and best friend of many years – and I enjoy exquisitely-written erotica as a source of pleasure and wonder as we continually create our own future together.