The title of this post was inspired by the lovely Shelley Workinger's blog, where I was invited to guest yesterday for her Foodfic Friday series. Mermaids, you see, swim in the warm seas around the Echorium, and in the first book of the trilogy "Song Quest" they are being hunted for their eggs. The 'quest' part of the title takes young Singers Rialle and Kherron from the Isle of Echoes to the frozen mountains of the Karch in a desperate attempt to stop the hunting.
These books were first published more than ten years ago, and Song Quest was my debut novel for young readers - winning the very first Branford Boase Award back in 2000. So revisiting the texts for the ebook versions was an interesting experience. Would ten years of experience mean I'd want to rewrite the books? And if I did feel the need to rewrite, how many changes should I allow myself before the book became a different book?
In the end, though, the whole process seemed natural. After converting my final texts to Kindle format, I sent them privately to my Kindle and gave them a proofread on the same device most people would be using to read the ebook version. Reading them in this way meant any errors I'd overlooked in the manuscript versions leapt out and hit me.
Song Quest got a few minor tweaks and a couple of tiny corrections - the amount of editing that originally went into this book for the first published version under Barry Cunningham's experienced eye had clearly produced something that was as near to a polished story as possible. Any further work would have meant changes to the story or style, and I honestly did not feel the need to make any.
Crystal Mask got similar treatment. Again, any changes I made for the ebook were relatively minor, and I challenge anyone who has read the original to notice. Mostly it was just breaking up long paragraphs so the story reads better on a Kindle screen.
Dark Quetzal, however, got a bit more work. Having not read this story for ten years meant I could approach it almost as a new reader, having forgotten much of the plot - and I'm ashamed to say I found myself getting slightly confused in places, even though I WROTE IT! So I added further explanation to a few places to help, deleted some confusing parts, and moved a few other bits around. I hope the result is a more streamlined story, and that anyone who loved the original version won't scream too much.
I hasten to add this is no reflection on my original editors, who were the same editors who worked with me on the first two titles in the series. But I do have a theory why this third book inspired me to do a bit more work on it... Back in 2004, my editors and I had already spent two years working in the world of the Echorium, so we knew that world like the backs of our hands... or the scales of a mermaid's tail, anyway. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of assuming the reader knows just as much, and forget to explain things that are actually quite vital to the plot, or forget to introduce new readers to the familiar characters, etc.
Also, there's the time factor when working to publishing schedules. My debut Song Quest had seven years of leisurely rewrites while I was searching for a publisher. Crystal Mask was already half written by the time I found one. Dark Quetzal not only had the task of completing the trilogy in a satisfactory manner, but also had to be written from a standing start while we were all still involved with editing the second title and promoting the first... and as any author knows, publicity is a double-edged sword. After Song Quest won the Branford Boase Award, I was suddenly in demand for interviews and appearances all over the country. Writing and editing the third title of the series therefore got fit in around these visits, and I also still had a day job working with racehorses. That's why I felt the need to give Dark Quetzal a final polish at this stage. Not a rewrite as such, more a preening of quetzal quills to sort out the sticky bits so its plumage can glow a bit more - and all for just 99c/99p this weekend, if you're quick!
***SPECIAL OFFER (until Monday)
If you're in the UK, you can get two ebooks for the price of one:
with Song Quest available in paperback
If you are in the US, it's three for one:
Please pass the word to anyone you think might enjoy them!