Research Notes · 12/22/2017

Year 14

Our Research Notes series invites authors to describe their process for a recent book, with “research” defined as broadly as they like. This week, Michael Konik writes about Year 14 from Barrelhouse Books.


Mandatory Trigger Warning: May induce nausea and cynicism in readers prone to reasonableness.

When I lived my younger life, visiting many places, many poor places, many desperately poor places condescendingly known as “developing countries” or, worse, Third World, I had no inkling I was doing research for a novel called Year 14. Living in the United States of America, a rich place, a gloriously rich and inspiring republic, a role model for the entire world, I had no inkling I was doing research for a novel called Year 14.

Of course, I was. After I wrote the book, I realized I’d been unwittingly collecting elements of the tale in my subconscious, cataloguing them in ways my conscious mind didn’t yet understand. One day they all emerged, harmonized into a story that was as fun and timeless as anything I’ve ever authored.
Like that. There it was.

Year 14 was written without an outline, and without any additional research. The climactic scene – which I won’t describe here – came to me first in an ecstatic vision, as though a seagull had lighted on my shoulder and transcribed the book into my ear. I could see it very clearly. And then, strangely, inexplicably, I began to understand the events that preceded this glorious climax – but in reverse, as though the story was unspooling itself backwards. That night, at dinner, I told my wife the story of the book (originally entitled Everybody Sing!) and found myself crying, and then laughing and then crying again. She said I should stop talking about it and go write it.

Which I did. Didn’t take long. A few months.

It was given to me. I received it. I shared it.

This incident has made me a believer in string theory and the circular nature of time. And divinity moving through hollow reeds, and so forth.

Please note, the author was granted the appropriate permit by Barrelhouse Books to express these thoughts. And though he does not have a license for Public Pronouncements of Speculation issued by the Office of Creation, he did, it should be noted for the official record, issue all relevant and necessary warnings.


Michael Konik is the author of many books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. He lives in Los Angeles, where he serves as poet laureate of Vista Street Community Library and tends an organic vegetable garden.