I have taken a day off today to extend the Easter weekend and get a start on what I’m calling spring cleaning. Mind you, this isn’t the traditional spring cleaning that my mother did at 22 Penetanguishene in St. John’s when I was growing up. In reality, my task today mainly involves tackling the closet in my studio, which has all since lost its usefulness because I keep shoving things into it that have no other home. But I’m calling it spring cleaning because it makes it feel less of a chore and more of a welcome to the season that has been a long time coming this year.
In this particular closet there is a set of heavy-duty plastic shelves that have long since sagged under the weight of the stuff I’ve piled on them. Emptying the shelves one by one is actually proving to be much more interesting, and distracting, than I had anticipated.
For instance, there’s the box that holds the original Standing Tall manuscripts, a red file folder that contains all the correspondence from the days when I was negotiating with an agent, a plastic sleeve with the original flyer from the printing company in Calgary (Blitzprint) that followed us from Alberta to Ontario, all so that we would, I believe, start Iceberg. There are binders with presentations, magazines with articles I’ve written, gifts that I don’t quite know what to do with but can’t bear to part with, and the list goes on.
What compelled me to stop my work and come to the keyboard (yes, at this moment, my studio looks like a hurricane ran through there and scattered stuff all over every available surface), was the box marked KENNETH MANUSCRIPT 1.
Despite knowing what was inside, I couldn’t resist the urge to open it and take a look at the first manuscript printing of Defense Command: Guardians of Earth – Book One: The Fleet Clash by Kenneth Tam (copyright 1997).
This, as Kenneth has mentioned in previous Notes, was the origin of what would eventually become the 20-book Defense Command (DC) series –– the love story with a war in the middle. In this first version of Defense Command, the main character is Kenneth Tam, parents Peter and Jacqui appear from time to time, there are three German Shepherds aboard the space cruiser Wolf, and the main female character is, well, Karen McMaster. There is and could only ever be, one Karen.
This version of DC will never be published of course, and that is as it should be. But the first three paragraphs will remain forever as some of my favorites.
Maybe that’s partly because I can so clearly picture the real, then-13-year-old author doing exactly what is described. Mostly it’s because I knew, by the end of page 187 and in the places where I know things that I shouldn’t in fact know, that this would eventually become something very special.
So for DC readers, here’s a look at where it all started. And while you’re reading, I’ll head back to my closet, and see what other treasures I will find.
Beams of sunlight streaked into my bedroom and blanketed my bed like a comforter. The alarm clock buzzed loud enough to wake the dead. I rolled over. Would another ten minutes make much of a difference? Probably. Half-heartedly I made an attempt to roll out of bed, but my fatigue was overwhelming. My eyes managed to open, letting beams of light in.
I rolled again and buried my face in my pillow. I heard myself groan. One leg pushed its way out of my bed. After swinging around for a bit, it found the floor. Soon, the second leg followed. Uneasily I stood up, blinking and getting focused on the day ahead.
© Kenneth Tam, 1997