Tuesday, August 02, 2011
The Story Behind the Story -- Second Sight
Finally PubIt!, the ebook platform at Barnes & Noble, has published the updated file of Second Sight. I have no idea what the hold up was, other than I think the PubIt! customer service department is located on the dark side of the moon. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I hate it when I can't get my hands on a book I want to read so I waited for the book to go live. Sorry for the delay. Don't think I'll do it again. Anyway...
I told you about my easy-peasy sales, now we're getting into the tough ones with Second Sight. This is one of my most favorite books. I love everything about it, so much that I've thought about rewriting the book just so I could play with the characters again.
The first character to introduce herself to me was the heroine, Susan Cade, in a scene when she was thirteen, sitting on the backend of a horse trailer on a two-bit racetrack in Oklahoma. I was a junior in college at the time, struggling through Advanced Rhetoric, one of the toughest courses I ever took. I swear the professor stayed up late combing arcane dictionaries for the most obscure words he could find to bamboozle us with the next day. I was so glad when Susan showed up. Writing about her was way more fun than studying written forms of argument.
I survived Advanced Rhetoric with a B. I didn't understand a single word the professor said, barely passed the exams with D's, but I aced the papers -- and I kept writing about Susan. I followed her from Oklahoma to Foxglove Farm in Virginia, where she met Richard Parker-Harris, her cousin Meredith's stepbrother. For Susan it was love at first sight; for Richard it was instant loathing. His nickname for Susan was Troglodyte. She was the bane of Richard's life at Foxglove, especially after she broke his nose with a riding crop.
I wrote other books, other stories, but I always came back to Susan and Richard. By the time I'd sold my second book to Harlequin I'd written close to 500 pages about Susan adoring Richard, and Richard avoiding her like the plague. Until he came home to the States from England, saw Susan for the first time in eight years and fell instantly in lust with her.
The Patriot, that second book for Temptation, was such an easy sale that I naively thought I had a golden touch. That's embarrassing to admit but it's the truth. This was the perfect time, I decided, to send my editor a proposal for Susan and Richard's story. I named it Gift Horse and popped it in the mail.
I was positive my editor would love the book but she didn't -- she hated it. Most of all she hated Richard. She utterly despised him. She called me and spent ten minutes trashing him and the story I loved. She didn't have one nice word to say. Ouch. I was stunned. Susan was devastated.
About a week later I got the proposal back from my editor with her very detailed notes. I read them and gritted my teeth; read them again and had to take an Excedrin. I was so ticked off. How dare she! What did she know anyway? I had a royal, three-day hissy fit and then I realized, damn it -- she was right.
Richard was a complete jerk. He was not the least bit likable or sympathetic. He had good reasons for behaving like an ass. He drank too much to deaden his emotional pain, but I failed to show that to the reader. I knew better, but I was so enamored with the story and yes, I admit it, my own brilliance (cough) that I blew it.
What do writers do when we blow it? We rewrite.
I rethought the story -- especially the beginning -- and I rethought how I'd portrayed Richard. Then I called my editor. I told her she was right, that I'd rewritten the proposal and asked her if she'd read it again. Fortunately, she said yes. I sent the revised proposal, she read it, she liked it, and she bought Second Sight. Though I still like the title Gift Horse better.
Susan was over the moon. I was happy, and humbled. Here's the moral to this story: sometimes the editor is right.
Gift Horse -- I mean, Second Sight -- is available on Kindle, at All Romance ebooks and finally on Nook.