So… I’ve done something I hope none of you actually notice. I can smell your anticipation already.
You know the saying that a book is never truly finished, only abandoned? Well that’s never truer than with a first novel. At some point you have to just step back and unleash the thing on the world. You might fix a few more errors when you’re checking the paperback proofs or whatever, but over all – just get over it, move on and start your next book.
Apparently I’m not so good at that bit.
With the Twilight Reign finished, one thing I was so pleased about when Moon’s Artifice hit the shelves was simply that I had a new first book to show people. Before that point, if you wanted to get into my work there was really only one place to do it, my rookie novel. But it got me thinking about how sometimes you get to revise those first novels and it occurred to me I REALLY couldn’t be bothered to do that. Not only couldn’t be bothered, but I didn’t want to.
It’s the book I wrote and I’m very happy with it, hell – I’ll enjoy it if I sit down and read the thing as I have done before. There were bits about the book that some readers didn’t like and fair enough, but for all that I might not write it exactly the same way if I started it all over again, a big overhaul isn’t ever what I’d wanted to do.
But maybe the odd tweak. Maybe a few sentences could be a bit shorter. Maybe there’s the odd scene where the POV switches and I’ve confused the reader. Maybe Isak sounds rather more well-spoken in book 1 than he does in later novels. Little mistakes you don’t notice as much as you should and it’s not second-nature to avoid them yet. Yeah, I’d totally fix a couple of those.
And that’s what I’ve done. My new editor in a fit of inadvisable politeness failed to trot out the usual editorial line of being swamped at work (despite actually being so) so when we were having a chat about a free Tom Lloyd sampler – forthcoming, to contain a massive chunk of Stormcaller on top of a massive chunk of Moon’s Artifice and a few short stories for good measure – he failed to splutter in outrage through his pint when I asked if I could do a few very minor adjustments to make it an easier read.
For formatting reasons, that proved to be a colossal and hideous mistake on both our parts, but we only realised it too late and had to press on until the end. I now know that the road to hell is not paved with good intentions but line breaks and margin changes. Manually fixing every line of a 175,000 word document was, ah… not fun.
But we got there and lo a new e-version of The Stormcaller is born. It’s almost exactly like the old version. Fans re-reading won’t be able to tell the difference I suspect, at least I hope not. But I also hope it’ll be just that bit smoother to new readers too. You try to replicate on the page the story that’s in your head and your skill as a writer determines how well it appears to those reading it. So this isn’t a revised edition of the book, that would be over-stating things, but it is a version that is simply a little truer to the story I was trying to tell.