Someone asked a few interesting questions on my Facebook page earlier today. After a book is written and delivered and produced and published, she asked, do I think much about it afterward? Do I remember it? If someone were to give a summary of a book from the 1980s or ’90s without saying it was one of mine, would I recognize it? They were questions that got me thinking.
A Masked Deception, my first book, was written in 1983. Ouch! That is a long time ago. Have I thought about it much since then? Not really. Have I reread it? No. Would I recognize a summary of it? Oh, yes. That book is a part of me just as all my other books are–and just as all the experiences of my life are. There is a whole lot about the younger years of my children, for example, that I never think of and have “forgotten” to all intents and purposes, but if someone were to describe an incident, I would know immediately that it happened to my children and not anyone else’s.
It’s a bit strange, perhaps, that I do not reread my books once they are published. I am certainly a re-reader. I love reading books that have enthralled me a number of times before even if I remember them in great detail. In the case of my own books, though, I probably read them a hundred times or more while writing them. Once they are finished, I am done, and I am on to the next book and the next set of characters and the next love story to be worked out. Even so, I enjoy being reminded by readers of favorite characters or quotes or scenes from my books.
Someone recently mentioned the scene close to the beginning of Slightly Dangerous in which Christine , leaning over a balcony rail to catch a glimpse of the dread Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, inadvertently drips lemonade down into his eye. And I remembered that that scene was actually written after the rest of the book when my editor suggested that Wulfric and Christine have their first “meeting” rather earlier in the book that I had put it. And then someone remembered Christine snatching away Wulfric’s quizzing glass in exasperation one day and tossing it up into a tree. The very dignified duke has to climb up to retrieve it. I enjoyed reminiscing, just as I might enjoy (well, sort of) being reminded of my elder daughter at a very young age cutting off the central couple of inches of her lovely bangs right up to the hairline.
I do reread my books, by the way, when they are republished. I have to read through the proofs to make sure there are no errors (the typo gremlins always creep in anyway, of course, but both the publisher and I do our best to keep them out!). It’s a funny feeling reading something I wrote long ago. It’s a bit like looking at an old video of yourself. Sometimes I am relieved to find that the book is still something I would be proud to write and turn in now. A few times, however, I have been a bit uncomfortable. The Web trilogy, for example, (The Gilded Web, Web of Love, The Devil’s Web) were a little too heavy on long, introspective paragraphs for my current tastes. I try now to include more dialogue in my books and to have a bit less interior monologue. But some change is inevitable in any writer who has been at it for thirty years. After all, everything else about me has changed!
To someone who leaves a comment (perhaps in the form of a favorite character or scene or quote from one of my books?) before the end of next Tuesday, August 21, I will send my last remaining advance reading copy of THE ARRANGEMENT. I know I said that a couple of weeks or so ago, but the copy I thought was spoken then actually for wasn’t! There will still be time for me to send it to one of you before the book goes on sale on August 27. Last week’s winner was Kathy Taylor.