Closing the Circle: A Significant Anniversary

Once upon a time, many years ago… I wrote a novel.

At the time, I was very young, very green as a writer, full of the passions of creation. I was also studying for my MSc in Molecular Biology… and this novel – pure glorious epic fantasy, was born in longhand in notebooks buried on my chaotic desk in the lab in between waiting on experiments, concurrently with my Masters thesis. Fact and fantasy fighting for emergence. In the end, they both won.

It was a good book. It was a GOOD STORY. I knew it in my bones. And it has a story of unparalleled chutzpah attached to it about which… all I can say is… kids, don’t try this at home. It could only work once and it barely worked then. But listen up.

There I was, kicking my heels in London Town, staying with a friend with a printer. The entire “Changer of Days” novel – all 250,000 words of it – was duly printed out for me (I had to supply… a lot of paper…) and I gathered up a box with this monster in it and walked into one of the most traditional, most hidebound, most by-the-book classic literary agency in existence… because it housed a particular agent who I knew represented one of my own favourite published authors. I marched in with my box and I asked to see this agent. The well-trained receptionist told me that she was in a meeting. I said, “I’ll wait” – and I parked myself in a chair in the front office. When it became clear I wasn’t going anywhere the receptionist, after a few more and more annoyed glances in my direction, finally got up and went into the back somewhere… and returned with the agent I wanted who, probably absolutely blown away by the sheer affrontery of a walk-in, came out to see for herself. I then committed chutzpah attack number two, and handed her the box. “I have a novel,” I said.

 

She might have just thrown it into the garbage right there and then. But I think she was taken by my sheer cheek, and she *actually read the thing*. She phoned me in my hotel room in London and spoke to me about it for a while. She said she liked it – she really liked it – but the issue was that she was on the cusp of retiring and she was shedding clients, not taking on new ones. She gave me a bunch of names of other agents who might be interested, though, and in the long run I signed with one of those – but before that, I went to New Zealand, and I made the acquaintance of several editors there. Once again I handed one of them my novel. And this guy said, we’ll publish this. But yikes, a quarter of  a million words! You’re a newbie! Split that puppy and we’ll do a duology!

That is what happened, ladies and gentlemen, back in the days of the close of the old millennium and the dawn of the new one. The duology – now known as “Changer of days” volume I and volume II, duly appeared in New Zealand – and let me do a digression here – they sent me a sketch for a cover they wanted to put on the second volume and I vetoed it on the grounds that no camel ever looked that happy and anyway what was the Yeti doing on the cliffs above my girl…? (they changed the cover. My new camels were grumpier. The Yeti was yeeted.) I was fine with that – two books, two advances, two publications, two credits – but the drawback was that the first half of this thing which was now book I ended on a wholly unintended clifhanger from hell – of course you were always meant to go onto the next chapter, not another book, so it didn’t matter in the original scheme of things but hold that thought…

I moved to the States, and so did my work – and “Changer” got picked up and republished, still as a duology, by Harper Collins. They wanted a new title for #1 and I well remember a lunch with my Eos editor back in the day while we tried to hammer one oue – the problem was that I didn’t like her suggestions and it was still just “changer of days” in my head anyway and in the end we came up with “The Hidden Queen” which was a title by committee which neither of us was crazy about but both of us could live with.

That was back in the first few years of the ‘oughts.

At some point the publisher in their infinite wisdom decided to let book 2, now just “changer of days” by itself, go out of print.

Remember that cliffhanger? THat was all that existed now. You could still buy book one but what you could NOT buy was a conclusion.

I began getting emails from people asking me what the hell HAPPENED to my people.

For seven years I tried to pry that first book loose, because what I wanted to do… what I REALLY wanted to do… is to present that book as a whole novel – as the story it was always meant to be.

In the days of the pandemic, with everyone working remotely from homes and distant offices, business being done by phone and email and zoom oh my, I finally got my story back together.

But somehow… it was twenty years later. I looked at the whole thing and worried a little. WOuld it still stand…?

Reader. It does. I put the whole book back together, took out some 15,000 words in the edit, put about 10,000 new ones back in, plugged a plot hole or two, and what we have here… is a remarkable book. One that has been, in its day, in its shattered form, well loved by readers over the last two decades, now ready to finally step out and face the world in its true shape.

I am so damn proud of this book. Still.

I so want you all to read – or re-read – it in this incarnation. I can’t wait for you to do that. My girl, my Changer, is waiting for you – and so is one of the best villains I’ve ever written, and no less than THREE magnificent paladins (one of whom may be about to get an entire novel of his own… Favrin Rashin appeared in this book as a throwaway name but grew so much character and filled out with so much life that his story is clamoring to be told. And it will be. And guess what. I’m closing another circle. The duology has become one; and in the fullness of time… one will become two again.

THis is one of my foundational, one of my seminal, books. *And it is solid*. I am beyond happy to see this baby out in the world at last, complete with a snazzy new cover with nary a grumpy or otherwise camel in sight. Go nab a copy (you can get an ebook right here in the BVC store; paperbacks will be availabe from Amazon shortly…) It’s been a labor of love and now it is ready to fly – I so look forward to hearing what readers think of it.

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