Article published on May 22, 2017.
In its simplest form, writing is nothing more than telling a story—something humans have been doing for as long as we’ve been humans. Reality TV and social media were in short supply in our common primordial past, but I have to imagine campfires and long, dark nights were not. And needless to say, she or he that told those stories in the most compelling and artful way, probably achieved a special position among her or his fellow cave-dwellers. Their words surely hinted at a shared truth that could not be expressed in any other way; a reassurance that their tiny band of followers was not alone, and that they had a place and a destiny amid all that darkness. The words of this storyteller must have had an incandescence that melted shadows, that lit up the night.
But then they had to get an agent. After all, this fur-clad author did have to make a living. And then they probably had to edit their stories to make them more saleable to their fellow Cro-Magnons. Because the average fireside story consumer in those days probably skewed in the 35-45 bracket, with a strong preference for fast-paced Auroch-hunting dramas under 300 pages. And when the stories finally sold to a Neolithic publishing house, only to have the editor get tragically eaten by a sabretooth cat six months before publication, there was probably some dismay about the amount of publicity said stories would receive, and the cave person probably became very depressed, because they had rent to pay and bills to worry about and they secretly and selfishly always wanted to be at the very tip-top of the Neanderthal Times Bestseller List. And they probably considered just giving up entirely, or possibly even throwing themselves beneath the feet of a heard of trampling woolly mammoths, but in the end just drank too much cave-brew and spent the night alone at a karaoke bar in Lascaux quietly weeping while doing a very poor rendition of “Send in the Clowns.”
Naturally, some things have changed over the countless millennia since then, but some things have not. And for me, while it’s easy to get caught up in all the countless distractions and inevitable disappointments that attend this very peculiar art form of conjuring stories from the air, I always take some comfort in reminding myself why we started doing this in the first place. Beyond all the self-centred complications that come with being a writer, there is a single, sustaining truth—the same truth that once gave comfort and reassurance to those who sought it, a truth so bright it burned holes in the night.
– Dane Huckelbridge
About the author
Dane Huckelbridge is a writer from the American Middle West. He graduated from Princeton University in 2001, with a degree in history and a certificate in Latin American studies. Since then, his fiction and essays have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Tin House, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, and The New Delta Review. He published a critically acclaimed history of bourbon whiskey with the HarperCollins imprint William Morrow in 2014. Castle of Water is his debut novel. He is married and lives between New York and Paris.
Follow Dane on Twitter @Huckelbridge
Stranded on a desert island two strangers must find a way to survive, no matter their differences, because if no one ever comes to their rescue they’re together for a very long time…
For Sophie Ducel, her honeymoon in French Polynesia was intended as a celebration of life. The proud owner of a thriving Parisian architecture firm, co-founded with her brilliant new husband, Sophie has much to look forward to—including a visit to the island home of
her favorite singer, Jacques Brel.
For Barry Bleecker, the same trip was meant to mark a new beginning. Turning away from his dreary existence in Manhattan finance, Barry had set his sights on fine art, seeking creative inspiration on the other side of the world—just like his idol, Paul Gauguin.
But when their small plane is downed in the middle of the South Pacific, the sole survivors of the wreck are left with one common goal: to survive. Stranded on an island the size of a city block, hundreds of miles from civilization, the two castaways must reconcile their differences and learn to draw on one another’s strengths if they are to have any hope of making it home.
Castle of Water by Dane Huckelbridge, published on 18 May, 2017 by HQ, in paperback
We All Begin as Strangers by Harriet Cummings