“Illuminated Fools:” a novel in progress

IF-2-72-dpiwebThink High Fidelity meets Cloud Atlas.

Here’s a peek at the work in progress I’ve been workshopping and working on since September 2010. Here’s a thumbnail of the story, below is a longer treatment.

Illuminated Fools

Two young men a century apart are contacted by “The Adept,” a discarnate being who claims to have a message for humanity. Daniel Peachfoot, in present day Phoenix, doesn’t understand what is happening until he discovers a mysterious book from 1912 chronicling Josiah Salt’s experiences with an entity known as “Phylos Simeon,” and how Josiah was made the conduit for bringing Phylos’ esoteric teachings to light.

Josiah’s journey from farm boy to mystic and the contents of the book he scribes for Phylos helps Daniel reconcile his fears about being chosen for similar work. As the two men’s lives intertwine the question remains: who or what is Phylos and what are his intentions with Daniel?

It’s your world, with weird sprinkled on top.


James Sallis and all the good people in his novel writing class have been very helpful in my transition from writing mostly short pieces – primarily poetry – to working on a novel. Nearly every page has been through his workshop and revised based on student feedback and Jim’s amazing critiques / edits.


Here’s a longer treatment of the two story lines.

Illuminated Fools has two main plot lines, both set in Arizona, one in modern day and a sub-plot in 1910. There is a third element to the book consisting of small islands of texts that seem to exist outside of the world of the novel.

The main narrative is the story of Daniel Peachfoot, a disaffected musician working in his family’s record store. He is burned out and stuck in a rut, flirting with a breakdown. He’s going through the motions of another shift when he blacks out and wakes up in the backroom of the store having penned a strange allegorical story he has no memory of composing, written in a hand other than his own.

There is no explanation and he experiences many unsettling sensory difficulties for the rest of the day, including being physically ill, passing out in the bathroom, loosing time and generally feeling like he is operating in a replica of his real world. He’s very distressed by the events and sensory weirdness, only wishes to get through the day and relax with whatever mood enhancers he can find.

In the course of the shift we meet The Boss, Bill Parks and Monday, a part time employee with a special body modification in his forehead. We also see a homeless man called the Toilet Priest who holds forth to empty space. Interspersed with the day-to-day reality of the store are fugue islands of narration that stand in contrast to the standard narration for their other-ness. There are several of these, starting with the story Daniel seems to have created while unconscious. Very different settings and points of view not yet explained.

Chapter six introduces the “Monument Valley” story-line. The chapters comprise the introduction to a book Daniel finds in the primary narrative. In this long introduction the book’s author Josiah Salt explains that he did not write the book in question, that it was dictated to him by an entity that spoke to him directly and delivered the content to him.

These chapters focus on the author Josiah’s experiences leading up to the composition of the book, before he accepts the “adept,”which Josiah claims is the actual author,  before he accepts his role and functions as the adept’s vessel for writing the book. It also explains that once he accepts his role as the receiver he starts to experience extra-sensory abilities.

The “Monument Valley” chapters will alternate with chapters from the main narrative starting with chapter six, perhaps earlier. The Monument Valley plot is now five chapters long, there will likely be more, the two plot-lines may alternate chapters earlier. The two story lines may also synthesize into an entirely new narrative beast.


Click below if interested in the nuts and bolts updates about when chapters were finished, and what I’m working on. Thanks for your interest and support for works in progress.




November 2021 – Chapter 23. Actually complete in May but not posted about for no good reason. About 6400 words, which brings manuscript over 100,000 critiqued and edited words. That’s about 290 8 1/2 x 11 pages single-spaced in word. Going to keep on Trucking. The bolts that hold together the metal “boards’ of the physical manuscript I keep for a visual reminder of what I’ve written are over an inch long and the nuts on them are as far down the threads as possible so need to acquire new bolts. I need to reprint that physical manuscript single spaced and on both sides of the page to allow for more words to be held within. Again, seems like a good problem.

Currently about 4,000 words into Chapter 24, and have some good flow. I can maybe see the finish line, but don’t want to tempt fate by being overconfident. The goalposts have moved before. Ever Onward! 11-12-21


January 2021 – Chapter 22. Another chapter following Daniel and this time following Bill’s father in Monument Valley in 1938 and that connection. About 5300 words, which brings manuscript close to 95,000 critiqued and edited words. That’s roughly 270 8 1/2 x 11 pages single-spaced in word. Going to keep on Trucking. The bolts that hold together the metal “boards’ of the physical manuscript I keep for a visual reminder of what I’ve written are over an inch long and the nuts on them are as far down the threads as possible so need to acquire new bolts. That seems like a good problem. Onward.

November 2020 – Chapter 21. Continuation of storylines from 20, which follows more of the trials and tribulations of Daniel in the Peachy Platter narrative as well as a kind of hybrid storyline which starts in the Peachy narrative and then goes back in time to 1898 following the story of Malcolm Duncan, another receiver who attained fame as a stage clairvoyant. Also get Bill Parks in the mix in the later Daniel scenes. More of this in next chapter. Ch. 21 is about 6000 words which brings manuscript to just about 90,000 workshopped and revised words. Hope to wrap up in a few more chapters this year, ideally before or by my 50th birthday in March.  

July 2020 – Chapter 20, Important material I’m relatively happy with that propels the narrative and brings me closer to finishing. Over 6100 words, which brings the manuscript to about 84,000 words. Workshopped in July, added to manuscript a couple of months later. Have two more chapters workshopped, one added to manuscript and other revising which puts me at about 90,000 words, depending. Chugging away, have some steam, hope to update more frequently. Here’s a pick of the paper manuscript in progress, a super unique steel loose leaf book held together with a couple of bolts. Onward. 


December 2018 – Two new Chapters, primarily Peachy Platters-based but most everything here forward will be a kind of hybrid or a new kind of chapter. Chapters 18 and 19. !8 has been revised post-workshop and added to manuscript, 4600 words. The manuscript is now about 73,000 words. Chapter 19 has been workshopped but not revised as of this update, hope to put it to bed before the end of the year. Again I’m happy with the momentum in the story, but not with the rate of production. That said, plot-wise I can see the end of the tunnel, and it’s not an oncoming train. May create a separate post with photos of the manuscript, etc. It is possible I can finish this beast in 2020, I certainly hope fucking so. Onward.
June 2018 – Three new Chapters, post-Monument Valley but not entirely in the Peachy Platters narrative. Chapters 15, 16 and 17, workshopped and revisied, which together comprise about 13,500 words. Manuscript is now approximately 68,500 words. 15, 16 and 17 are pivotal chapters, a kind of suite that take the novel into the last third, but it took too long to get there. I’m pleased with the writing and did write a number of short stories and other writing in the time since the last update, but three years is far too long. Too much time not sitting at the writing desk. Novel sessions too sporadic for my liking, intend to be more disciplined.

For now, I can’t see the finish line, but  I have crested the hill and there’s a hydration station in the distance. As uncle Sammy wrote: “I can’t go on, I’ll go on.”

June 23rd 2015 – Two new Peachy Platters chapters, chapters 11 and 13 workshopped and revised. Manuscript is 156  8 1/2 x 11 pages, nearly 56000. Important chapters but took too long to write and then be critiqued. Need to step up output.Did have an art show, wrote a couple of short stories and worked on submissions some in this time, but need more novel pages, dammit!

Feb 3rd 2014 – New Peachy Platters Chapter. Manuscript is now 140 8 1/2 x 11 pages, nearly 49,000 words. Staying in the Peachy Platters storyline for the time being. I have removed the links to the full manuscript, will put up excerpts  from each narrative soon, novel related material upon request.

Oct 15 2013 – New Peachy Platters Chapter, finished with Monument Valley for now. Manuscript is 124 pages, nearly 44,000 words. Would like to pick up the pace.

April 22, 2013 – New Monument Valley Chapter, pdf now 111 pages 8 1/2 x 11″ pages, almost 40,000 words. Now back to writing in modern day for a while.

Feb 25, 2013. New Monument Valley Chapter the pdf is now ninety-one 8.5 / 11″  pages and 35,000 words!

** September 4th. New “Monument Valley” chapter added, now over 30,000 words and eighty-one 8 1/2 x 11″ pages. I’m happy but need to step up the output. **

** April 9 2012 – New Chapter, second of three or four in the “Monument Valley” storyline added. Now 26,000 words & Seventy 8 1/2 by 11″ pages at 1.5 space. Pleased.**

** Dec 6 2011 – updated this post from Oct. and moved it back to the top, glad to have a very different new chapter to offer.**



~ by 15wattLasVegas on June 9, 2018.

2 Responses to ““Illuminated Fools:” a novel in progress”

  1. Hey Jonathan,

    Thanks for sharing part of the novel you’re working on. I really love multiple story aspect and some of those characters remind me of my days visiting Tower and Zia Records…very cool and goofy folk all around. I can’t wait to see how this develops. I’m also enjoying some of your other writing you’ve posted. Great blog all together dude! Keep it up.


  2. aren’t you worried about people ripping off your amazing work by having it in full display on the Internet?

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