Thursday, November 18, 2010

I know, two blog posts this week? What IS the world coming to?

Well, being housebound has it's advantages and having time to read as well as write are two of them. I've written nearly 10,000 words since the first of November and read three books. The latest book read is Catherine Coulter's The Heir. This is a rewrite; according to her note to readers on the back of the book, this title first was published in 1980. This edition, published in 1996, has been extensively re-written with more character development and "greater scope and depth" to the storyline.

I have to admit, there's something very attractive about going back to an early story and being allowed a "do over." I'm a much better writer now than I was a decade ago and undoubtedly could improve upon my early works. In fact, I spoke to Raelene Gorlinsky, Ellora's Cave's publisher about it when I was looking to re-do a novella that had been a part of an anthology but was now being re-released as a stand-alone ebook. Her words changed my mind.

What she said (paraphrased) basically amounted to this: readers bought your story and loved your story the way it was. If you go changing it, they'll feel shortchanged. They'll wonder why you didn't write it that way in the first place. You do them no favors by saying, "I'm a better writer now, I want a do-over." Her words reminded me of Ray Bradbury's comments in the Afterword of Fahreheit 451 (also paraphrased; I don't have a copy of his book with me at the moment) when he was asked if he wanted to do a rewrite of that wonderful novel about censorship: Why should I second-guess my younger self? I knew things then I don't know now. Let it be.

So when I picked up this book and read the back, I felt a twinge of concern? disappointment? ticked-off-ness? I wasn't sure I wanted to read it, to be honest. It might be better than the original, in her opinion, it might not be, in mine. I wish I had the 1980 version to compare it to -- the academic in me wants to know the differences.

All-in-all it ended up being a fairly good Catherine Coulter book -- I like almost everything I've read of hers, so I don't know why I was concerned going in. It's a good read, if a fast one (369 pages and I read it between the hours of noon and midnight and finished it). I wasn't enamored of the hero and heroine, but the supporting cast gave me something to keep reading for.

Sidenote: When I did a search for the book for the Amazon link, the same title came up under Johanna Lindsey, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Paul Robertson and Grace Burrowes. Looks like this is an overused title I won't be using anytime soon! Oh, and there's a re-issue of Coulter's in 2002. Wonder if it's another rewrite?

Stitches came out of my knee today...still can't drive, though.

Play safe!
Diana

2 comments:

bookdragon3 said...

I have both versions of The Heir and several other Coulter rewrites. She's just about the only writer I know that did herself a favor with rewrites. The originals were skinny little regencies while the rewrites are full sized historicals. They end up reading like the regencies were the Reader's Digest Condensed version of the historicals.The originals were long out of print and hard to find when she did the rewrites.

If the original is still relatively recent, I'd limit touch ups to the typos that made it past editing the first time.

Diana said...

I'm glad to hear that, bookdragon. I've never read her earlier versions and it's good to know I read the better of the two releases.

Your comment about the relative recent-ness of a book's first release to it's re-release made me grin. Once a book is out of my hands and into the publishers, I'm onto the next with very little looking back. As a result, my sense of time gets very skewed. I keep a chart of all my books, their ISBN #, their length and their release dates. I'm always surprised when I look at it to see the sometimes short periods between them!