Monday, May 16, 2011

Aloha (and SHOOTERS of course)

I'm leaving for part 2 of my Texas adventure today, but I wanted to flog the eBook of SHOOTERS one last time in the hopes of raising some gas money. For those of you who have the print version of SHOOTERS and think you can save $2.99 by rereading it instead of getting the shiny new Kindle version you should know that the text has been revised for the eBook. It's stronger, sleeker, sexier. Well, not sexier. But I do think it's stronger. For more info about the differences between the two versions, here is the note I added at the end of the eBook:

                                         A NOTE ABOUT THE TEXT

   General wisdom suggests that writers - like parlor magicians - should not discuss their work for fear of destroying what small illusion they may have been able to create for the audience. I've always been an advocate of that philosophy, despite the fact that we now live in an era that demands wheels squeak loudly or die quickly of rust. So I will try to keep this brief and leave out any details of the literary prestidigitation I may have been attempting to achieve with this book.

Reading SHOOTERS fourteen years after it was first published was a daunting task. I rarely look back at any of my work. What's done is done and revisiting these projects can only lead to painful realizations of mistakes made and opportunities lost. So it was with great trepidation that I looked at SHOOTERS again after all these years. It was a necessary step towards bringing it to e-publication. I had long ago lost the original files somewhere in the horde of dead computers that rest in my garage, so the novel had to be scanned. When this happens you have to read through the pages to correct all the scanning errors. So much time had elapsed since I put this project behind me that it appeared to be the work of a different person altogether as I read through the pages. I'm mystified at what the hell I was thinking back then. Mystified, and occasionally horrified. Being a notorious tinkerer, I was warned by my longtime partner, Heidi Sobel, that I should just do the corrections and not start rewriting the book, because that would be a process that might never end.

I tried my best, but....

Anyone who wants to waste time comparing the text of the 1997 edition of SHOOTERS with this e-volume will find that there are many minor changes made to the text. I've cut some lines and simplified others. Typos have been corrected (and possibly new ones introduced!). But my main contribution to this version of the story is an attempt to correct what I now consider an error of judgment made just prior to the publication of the book. My editor at the publishing house suggested that I should strip out any specific references to the time in which the story took place so that the novel would not date poorly (which is ironic, because I used to date poorly myself all the time). I went along with this plan and I think the book suffered for it. Clearly the story is meant to occur in October of 1993, during a period when some of the worst wildfires in the last hundred years ravaged Southern California. To remove it from that specific date causes all kinds of story problems that I won't detail here, because that would violate the “general wisdom” mentioned above and possibly bore the pants off of you (if you are still wearing any).

SHOOTERS began life as a screenplay way back in 1985 (the many journeys that project took could fill a book of its own). I began writing it as a novel in 1993 (I think). At least that's when the wildfires became part of the text. I had the hope that my publisher would put the book out quickly. My dream at that stage in my life was to write books fast, chronicling the times in which they were being written, and have them hit the streets a few months later. I soon found out that neither my publisher nor I were up to that task. It took two and a half years for them to publish SHOOTERS and a lot had changed by then. My editor felt we now had a period piece on our hands and he asked me to take the edge off that element of the novel. It seemed somewhat logical back in 1996 when he made the request, but I performed the changes reluctantly. I was trying to be a team player. It was a mistake. Many topical touchstones laced throughout the book were obfuscated and others were added that could not have taken place until after 1993. By altering these events to make the book more generic I think we weakened the reading experience. I've done my best to recreate the draft as it was when I first sold it to the publisher. Other than that I tried to leave the book alone, per my sweetheart's request.

So if you don't like it, please blame Heidi!

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