Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Once again I'm editing old material, and what a difference a few years make. With Pale Immortal, I was under contract to write a crime fiction novel similar to previous titles, but containing a slight supernatural element. The accepted synopsis and sample chapters offered a pretty straight-forward police procedural with what I thought was a strong premise. Odd town with a lot of mystery surrounding it. A gang of wannabe vampires (but not real vampires), and a writer who is allergic to sunlight, bodies showing up drained of blood. Town going crazy and blaming the writer dude. A little romance. But when I turned in the full manuscript, I was sent back to reconstruct and add, IMO, totally hokey paranormal elements that weakened the story. And now as I'm editing for Kindle, I see that I was right, and I cringe at the scenes that were added later due to editorial direction. I can see what the book was supposed to be, because it's still there. And even with the additions, I didn't go nearly as far as I'd been asked to go. People flying, blood pouring out of the ground and out of walls. Which is why I'm no longer writing for that publisher. Two polarized visions. One realistic, one fantasy. It wasn't as if I'd been writing vampire books for them. I'd been writing very successful crime fiction, so the requests made no sense. And still make no sense. In some ways, I'd like to forget that these books (Pale Immortal, Garden of Darkness) exist, because I know what they could have been. Although with Garden of Darkness I left the gate with their previous requests in mind, so there really weren't any compromises. By that point, I knew what they wanted, which was horror, so that book isn't as painful to read. It never started as one thing to end up as something else.

A writer can't win in this situation. If you make the requested market-driven changes, chances are you will turn in an inferior book and readers won't pick you up again. If you don't make the changes, you will be dumped. They both end at the same place, just a different jury.


  1. Readers not picking you up again? I don't think that's true. You fought the good fight, and you preserved much. I certainly don't remember any Lost Boys flying or bleeding walls. ;) The paranormal element was very subdued, which was different and made it a bit more...believable.

  2. i appreciate that, jason. you witnessed a lot of the PI battle! the i see dead people didn't work for me then, and works even less for me now. it's really hard to pull off that kind of thing without it disrupting narrative flow and coming across as campy. i still think rachel should have been the logical straight person, the one rational voice, not the one seeing dead people her whole life. what comes later loses emotional impact because she's already a believer. argh. frustrated by it all over again. :D

  3. Don't get frustrated. You have a great work in front of you right now. And a great platform to get it out. :)

    Now that you mention it, I do recalled the I-see-dead-people element feeling a little like a red herring, but I liked Pale Immortal, and I stand by it overall.

  4. jason, i think it's a decent book, and like you said, there isn't a lot of the dead people stuff.

    this cover was the one that was never used. the guy was replaced by a badly drawn one with a wide skinny mouth. haha!

  5. I was hooked by your FROM THE AUTHOR when I picked it up in a grocery store. Was bidding on the your charity auction at the time, so didn't buy on spot. Drove me batty having to wait to read PI.

  6. oops. i have to confess that i edited out the author intro for the ebook version. too many people thought it was real.