Artist in Residence 30: The Aging of Words

so how do you count novel years? Does a novel get born and then age like fine wine, and only gets better with age…. or is it lucky if it still holds its own a year after its publication date? Do novels age in our years, in Great Dane years (where an 8-year-old dog is starting to fade from old age) or new tech (where everything is obsolete within a handful of years), or Galapagos tortoise years where you’re still meeting individuals going strong in their 150’s…?

I ask for a reason – my first solid high fantasy novel (there are stories here, and I will likely tell them, but not necessarily here and now…) was written [mumble] years ago, back when I was still technically a “scientist”, and originally published at the dawn of this millennium. It weighed in at a quarter-million words, and the original publisher squealed “split that puppy!” when faced with this mammoth manuscript and thus the novel – written as a single volume and always meant to stand as one – got published as a duology, and released in two volumes. In New Zealand, where it first appeared, those two books were entitled “Changer of Days Vol 1” and “Changer of Days Vol 2”, which made sense. When time came to re-release them in the states, they decided they wanted different titles. I vividly remember a lunch I had with my editor at the time where we noodled titles for the first volume (hte second would stay “changer of days”) and in the end coming up with a title-by-committee which neither of us loved but which would have to do for the circumstances, “The Hidden Queen”. So that (“The Hidden Queen”/”Changer of Days”) were their USA identities (still two books).

Then things got interesting and the publisher decided in their wisdom to let “Changer of Days” – the second volume, in effect the second (and concluding) half of the book – go out of print. The volume became very hard to find – but I have a couple of boxes of it because they sent me a great many copies which were otherwise desitined for pulp. But they hung on like grim death to “Hidden Queen”, the first part of the story, and I could not get the rights back for that although I asked multiple times what business model would be in play where literally half a book was “in print” and no reader would ever be able to find the conlcusion anywhere.

It took me years – seven, to be precise – to get a rights reversion for that first volume effected.

And now I am working on putting the two together and publishing the novel originally written as “Changer of Days” – yes, all quarter million words of it – as a single volume, a 20th anniversary edition, with a brand new cover, new material (origin essay… author’s note..) a new edit, probably a substantial polish given that I have had decades of writing experience since I first wrote this thing. I’m about 3/4 of the way there and guys…. this thing still HAS it. It has the magic. I *am* making a few changes – we all knew I would – but the story, the story STANDS, and I will be so, so proud to eagerly release this new edition by the end of this year. Watch, as it were, this space (and my Patreon, where I will be discussing background, story, and process things as they happen, if you’re interested in following along…)

I’m hanging onto my new cover but I will do a Reveal, soon. Really soon.

It’s a little bit of a bittersweet thing because Deck fiercely believed in this project and wanted to be a part of it, part of the editorial process, but they hung onto the rights a little too long and he ran out of time. I just hope I will be able to do it as much justice as he would have done. But he is very much with me, in this, right now…

 

So. that’s my summer. What are you all up to?

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About Alma Alexander

Alma Alexander's life so far has prepared her very well for her chosen career. She was born in a country which no longer exists on the maps, has lived and worked in seven countries on four continents (and in cyberspace!), has climbed mountains, dived in coral reefs, flown small planes, swum with dolphins, touched two-thousand-year-old tiles in a gate out of Babylon. She is a novelist, anthologist and short story writer who currently shares her life between the Pacific Northwest of the USA (where she lives with her husband and two cats) and the wonderful fantasy worlds of her own imagination. You can find out more about Alma on her website (www.AlmaAlexander.org), her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAlmaAlexander/), on Twitter (https://twitter.com/AlmaAlexander) or at her Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/AlmaAlexander)

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