THE SEVENTH WAVE: An Introduction
Early last year, at the height of the “first wave” of the coronavirus pandemic, I began a long story called The Seventh Wave that was in part a way of confronting the catastrophe, but also a homage to the films that inspired me when I was young, and in particular to two masters of the French Nouvelle Vague or New Wave, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut.
As you see, I had waves of various kinds on my mind.
Godard and Truffaut themselves were inspired by actress-muses, notably Anna Karina and Jeanne Moreau, with whom they fell in love.
Here are Godard and Karina:
And here are Truffaut and Moreau:
So it was natural to imagine a story about the relationship between a film director called “Francis” and his love, “Anna”.
As my story developed, it moved away from its point of origin both in place and time. It doesn’t take place in France in the 1960s, but in the United States, at an unspecified “present moment”, but clearly a time with a calamity like the pandemic in the background. As the story progresses that calamity moves closer to the foreground.
It’s also a story in which the fictional world of the film Anna and Francis are imagining together, and the real world of their daily lives, will slowly coalesce. But I’ll refrain from saying too much about that now.
The story took a number of shapes as I was making it. Scenes appeared and disappeared, and the storyline itself emerged only gradually. It uses, as you’ll see, some cinematic devices, and some of the narrative techniques of New Wave filmmakers. Parts of the characters’ back stories are left deliberately mysterious. This is a way of saying that all that matters about them is the present moment in which we know them, and how they act in the “now.” The past is helpful, but only up to a point.
And there will be gangsters, as there often were in the Nouvelle Vague films of those days.
As it developed, The Seventh Wave gradually got shorter. It has ended up as a text of some 35,000 words, or, if it was appearing in a book, roughly one hundred pages. One might say that it’s the length of a movie, because, in a movie script, one page is very approximately equivalent to one minute of action. So, one hundred pages, one hour and forty minutes.
It’s divided into 49 episodes, some brief, some longer. My plan is to publish one episode a week – a few minutes at a time, so to speak - but let’s see how that goes. I reserve the right to accelerate, or even to slow down.
I want to mention one more presiding spirit who helped me think about this story: the novelist Graham Greene.
He used to divide his works into two categories - the serious novels like The Power and the Glory, The Heart of the Matter, and The End of the Affair, and lighter, action-driven books which he called “Entertainments,” such as The Ministry of Fear and Our Man in Havana. Later in life, perhaps realizing that the “Entertainments” were at least as good as the “serious” books, he stopped making the distinction.
For the moment, I’m going to call The Seventh Wave an Entertainment. I may, like Greene, eventually dispense with that classification. But, for now, it’s offered purely to entertain, and I hope it will.
I will be publishing the first chapter next week, free of charge. After that, it will be available only to paid subscribers. I hope you’ll want to read it enough to subscribe.
That sounds awesome. I have confidence you will deliver a stellar story either way.
I'm looking forward to reading this. It sounds very interesting.