July 2013

25 July 2013 ~ Unused Quotes

I intended for over three year to begin each chapter of The Bush Baptist with a quotation linked to the events or ideas about to unfold. I collected quotations and sometimes hunted for them. For example, when I realised the writers and thinkers collected were predominantly white and male, I tried  hard to expand the range; sadly with little success.

By the start of this year it was clear that the book needed trimming and I ditched the chapter quotations.  However, for anyone interested the collection is availabe as a pdf. The themes of the quotes, and to a large extent the book, are:

  • Atheism
  • Beauty
  • Charlatans
  • Doubt and Scepticism
  • Fate / Luck / Chance / Providence
  • Gurus
  • Homophobia
  • Love
  • New Zealand
  • Prejudice
  • Religion
  • Suicide
  • Superstition

24 July 2013 ~ Printed version of The Bush Baptist Now Available 

The novel is now available from Feedaread for £9.99 plus £4.34 p&p. I expect the book to be available via Amazon by mid-August. E-book versions are available for £3.

17 July 2013 ~ Advice on Downloading E-Books

I have added advice on acessing e-books onto the 
Published Fiction & How to Buy page. There is a set on instructions on how to load a mobi file onto a Kindle, guidelines on which format to download to which e-reading device, and a suggestion on e-reading software for those who need it.

14 July 2013 ~ The Bush Baptist and The Pilgrim’s Progress

I started on The Bush Baptist in June 2007 under the working title of Camden because one of the original scenes was the meeting in Camden High Street between the characters who became Holbach and Kenan.  I decided seven months later that the novel would inlcude references to The Pilgrim’s Progress because I began to see Holbach as a modern pilgrim stumbling towards rationalism.

There are two mentions in Bush of the title of Bunyan’s book and several chapter titles, characters and places owe their names to  Pilgrim’s Progress. I have listed some of the references below.

I came to Pilgrim’s Progress  late because my schooling was Catholic and the book is anti-Papist. Nor did Bunyan feature in any of my post-secondary courses. What I admire about his writing is how innovative it was and the fact he wrote while imprisoned for his beliefs. I no more accept the Christian message than I do the political outlook of Shakespeare. Both sets of views appear archaic to me.

From the third edition of The Pilgrim's Progress, 1679

Bunyan’s story-telling strikes many now as quaint. As well as being influenced by the English of the Puritan era,  he wrote  to promote his view of Christianity and not to produce a work of literature. However, Pilgrim’s Progress provided a model that led others to pioneer the novel. And while there are ancient classics based on journeys and voyages, these emphasise physical courage and use of cunning whereas Bunyan’s concern is moral development and seeing through the shallowness of what many are busy with. Even road movies, or at least the better ones, owe something to Bunyan.

Dozens of websites claim that Pilgrim’s Progress is second only to the Bible as the most read or most printed book in the world. However, I have found no reference for these claims. I suspect they were once true of Christendom, or at least the Protestant part of it, and the notion has been out of date for  the best part of a century. However, there is no doubt that the text of has been widely translated.

For example, Paola Delle Valle in her 2010 book on the rise of Maori Literature, From Silence to Voice, notes that “Government presses featured ... direct translations of a selection of texts that could help the understanding of European culture..." And one of the texts chosen was The Pilgrim's Progress. (p.11)

I imagine the early New Zealand government’s choice owed something to the mythical qualities of Bunyan’s story being seen as attractive to Maoris with their own rich mythology, as well as the book promoting not just Christianity, but the Protestant variety. By this time, the Anglican church that had imprisoned Bunyan for religious dissent for the best part of 12 years now held him up as a hero and wanted children to learn from his allegory. And while the Protestant churches in colonial New Zealand competed with each other, they were united by varying degrees of antipathy to Rome and resentment towards the Catholic missionaries converting Maoris. Here was a book in addition to the King James Version that Protestants could rally around.

There is no escaping that much of the historical interest in Pilgrim’s Progress came from its usefulness for religious indoctrination rather than wanting to expose readers to the one of glories of English literature. Even today there are those who claim it is “a masterpiece of Christian instruction”. 

My greatest reservation about religion is the damage it can do to children. As well as the physical brutality that some forms of Christianity (and other creeds including some non-religious ones) foster in their eagerness to stamp out an inclination to sin or think, there is the psychological damage that follows unhealthy attitudes towards sexuality and the inculcation of guilt, especailly when linked to a  fear of eternal damnation. And while New Zealand, like many other nations, has moved some distance from the puritanism that came to the country in sailing boats, repressive pockets of Kiwi Christianity continue to damage at least a proportion of their younger members.

My guess is that today Pilgrim’s Progress has most currency where the repression by fundamentalists is greatest. Referring to the book in my novel is a way of saying Bunyan, like the Bible, needs reinterpretation. People make all sorts of journeys in and around beliefs and secular explorations can be just as moral and arduous as those that begin with the notion that God exists.

Some will say that Bunyan's Christian faith, once found, was unwavering and any tampering with his work is tantamount to sacrilege. My response is that Bunyan was an intelligent man with an enquiring mind. No one can say with certainty what he might have believed had he been born after the Enlightenment or with the benefit of modern biblical scholarship and an understanding of twentieth centrury science.

His faith like his writing was to a large extent a product of its times. Yet what exactly was his faith? Some claim he was a Baptist and others a Congregationalist. There is also debate as to whether he accepted all of the Five Points of Calivinism. It appears he was ripe for conversion in the sense of being troubled and responded to a local preacher. But had Bunyan been troubled before Henry VIII broke with the Catholic church, the religiosity of the man from Bedford would have followed the forms prescribed by Rome. And if Bunyan had lived in the seventeenth century in a non-Christian culture, his zealousness would have been shaped by whatever faith had currency.

Bush Baptist Chapters taken from The Pilgrim's Progress

The First Stage
The Wilderness of this World
Leaving the City of Destruction
That Which is to Come
Even from the Gate of Heaven

Christian leaving his wife and children as he begins his search for salvation.

Illustration known as "The man with the burden" by Rachael Robinson Elmer (1878 - 1919).  

Some Bush Baptist Place Names Taken or Derived from The Pilgrim’s Progress

Hirihiriwhenua – Enchanted Ground
Parangirua – Doubting Castle
Awamate  – The River of Death
Vanity Fair
Plain Ease
Deadman Lane –  “Dead-Man’s lane”
Error Hill – “hill called Error”
City of Destruction 

Gaius Hotel – from name of innkeeper
House Beautiful   
Prating Row – home of Talkative 
Silverhill – from Hill of Lucre
Slough Street – Slough of Despond
D’Arclande’s Hotel – Darkland
Wicketgate – wicket-gate

Some Bush Baptist Character Names Taken or Derived from The Pilgrim’s Progress

Atawhai  – Mercy in Maori 
Arona - Maori transliteration of Aaron.
Appleyon – Apollyon 
Batsaye – Batseye 
Bubbles – Madam Bubble 
Brisk – Mr Brisk
Cobby –  Mr Obstinate 
Cyprian Mnason –Mnason is a Cyprusian
Evangelio – Evangelist
Fairword – Fairspeech
Gabby – Talkative
Grandcouer – Great-Heart
Gripeman – Mr Gripeman, a schoolmaster
Guddwil – Goodwill
Interpreter House
Kohara – Maori for Passion
Kuare – Innocent in Maori 
Miss Truss – Mistrust
Mohi – Maori transliteration of Moses
Monet-Love – Money-love
Nathan & Ponder – from Nathaniel Ponder, publisher of the First Edition of the Pilgrim’s Progress
Onesta – from the Italian for Honest
Pearl Nosegay – both words appear in Pilgrim’s Progress
Pia – Italian for Piety
Pickthanks Books  - Pickthank 

Skill – a physician in the Pilgrim’s Progress
Tiana / Kiritiana – Maori form of Christiana 
Timereux – Timorous

11 July 2013  ~ The Bush Baptist  Available as an E-book for £3.

As I now have an ISBN for The Bush Baptist I have prepared e-book versions in Epub, Mobi and Pdf formats.

All three formats are available via Payhip Bush, which accepts PayPal. Payhip will also be accepting credit cards in the next few weeks.

Kindle users will need the mobi version and most other e-reader devices use epub. If you want to read on your personal computer and don't already have a programme for epub or mobi. I recommend the free software provided by Calibre for a range of operating systems.

More information on The Bush Baptist.

10 July 2013  ~ Mr Vitriol  Now Available as Ebook for £3.   

I have found a UK-based sales platform for e-books, Payhip, that offers a similar deal to Ganxy, the company I wrote about in May.

Purchase Mr Vitriol for £3 via Payhip Vitriol. The ebook is available in Epub, Mobi and PDF formats.
  Payhip will also be accepting credit cards in the next few weeks.

Payhip accepts payments via PayPal and will be accepting credit cards in the near future. Those who want to pay with a credit card now will need to use Ganxy and pay in US Dollars.

4 July 2013  ~ The Bush Baptist  is with publisher

I finished correcting The Bush Baptist this morning and sent the text to my publisher this afternoon. I hope to see a printed copy before the end of the month. I prepared an ebook version this evening. This needs the ISBN and then I will issue it shortly after the physical book goes on on sale.

I started this novel in 2007 before I had completed a course that taught the basics of fiction writing.  If I had my time again, I would spend two years on short stories, as well as workshops on writing, before starting a novel. Studying novel writing helped me a great deal, but I still wasted a lot of time struggling with the challenge of a novel  that is neither short nor simple. At the least, it would have been better to have attempted a novella before 
The Bush Baptist.

Mr Vitriol is not a short book, but it was easier to finish and so my second novel was published first.  I have also completed the draft of a much simpler novel, a novella and forty short stories. And it is attempting these works that have helped me to bring The Bush Baptist to a conclusion after six years and six major rewrites.

I was tempted to play George Bernard Shaw's trick. His first three novels were published in reverse order and he delighted in telling people how critics commented on his evolving style.

More information on The Bush Baptist.