It’s a great privilege to see the development of a story. I first read this book when it was called ‘House of Cards’, which seemed a very apt title when I read it but I’m guessing was changed due to the US television series of the same name. Titles can be so hard to get right, and you really need to look at what else is in the market so that people don’t have preconceived ideas about your book, or that you don’t get mixed up in someone else’s promotion. I will admit that I didn’t love the new title at first, but it has grown on me and the original title is a cliched phrase.
I love the simplicity of the cover and while the colour isn’t what I would have chosen, again it has grown on me. It lends itself well to the great visual promotions that I have started to see on Instagram from the publisher, Pantera Press.
So the cover and the title get my tick of approval but why am I mentioning them at all? The first impressions of a book are very important and can be the difference in getting it into a reader’s hand. Because I have seen this story in development, I love observing how everything has come together into a tight package. I can see that the author, Les Zig, and the production team behind him, have worked hard to bring it all together in a considered and strategic way.
What about the story? In essence, the story itself hasn’t changed dramatically from the first draft that I read because Les knows structure. He knows what his story is about and where to take it. This is always very evident in early drafts and I suspect that he wouldn’t have people read it until he thought it was ready for feedback. The difference between the draft and final product is a story with layers that is tight, easy to read and character driven. Everything that the characters say and do have a purpose that drives the story forward.
August Falling is about a man finding his way in the world after a disastrous relationship. Nothing new there and it would be easy for the author to throw him into another relationship that ends in true love. What we get is not a love story but the journey of August who has never really trusted himself or the world he lives in and this has been amplified by his last relationship. Every time August apologises, you feel like banging him on the head. He’s socially awkward and not confident about where he fits in his life, so when he sees an attractive woman in a café he never believes that she might give him a second glance.
Enter gorgeous Julie and you expect that this will lead to a love story and you’ll be annoyed with the author for telling you otherwise. From the moment they hook up, you’re barracking for them to be together and live happily ever after (that’s the romantic in me), while quietly berating August for being so awkward and to get his shit together.
Enter ‘the secret’. Okay this is a classic, keep-the-lovers-apart technique in storytelling because we all know, once they really get together, the story is over. The thing is ‘the secret’ might be a deal breaker and that this is not a classic love story. This is where August really needs to get his shit together and decide who he is and what he stands for. He needs to learn to trust. Can he do it? You need to read the book to find out.
August Falling is the perfect book for discussion. I can see readers talking about it in book groups because there are talking points for all the characters and not only the August and Julie relationship but the relationships between minor characters as well.
If you’re in Melbourne, why not go along to the book launch this Sunday at 2pm, Buck Milligans, 217 High Street, Northcote.