A Slight Change in Plans
Sorry about waiting until today to post. And I don't want to step on Stephanie's toes. By, the way, Stephanie, great post! One of my favorites is that one day in Sacrament meeting, I realized the story of the loaves and the fishes ended on Mark eight nine. Go figure.
Anyway, today is Stephanie’s day, and unlike Rob and I, she actually did post. But I have a pretty good excuse. Monday was a really weird day for me. In fact the whole week has been weird, not even counting the fact that the engine in our van blew up on the way to Idaho school visits. Monday morning, I was back home pushing hard to get Land Keep done by the week of April 20th when I get a call from my publisher.
It was Lisa Mangum. “Scott, how’s the story coming so far?”
“Great!” I told her. “This is definitely going to be the best book I’ve ever written. In fact, I’m actually a little nervous about how I’m going to top it in book three.”
Long pause. “Well . . . that’s good. But we’ve had a slight change in plans. Can you come down to the office to meet with Chris and me?”
Now, I love meeting with my publisher. They always have cool news, like, “Can you change the first chapter completely?” or “Remember how we had all those marketing dollars we were going to spend on your book in January?” So I must admit, I came with a little trepidation. I mean I’m over halfway on this baby and driving toward the finish. Maybe they have some cool artwork to show me. Except that they don’t know enough of the story yet to do artwork. Maybe it’s news about paperback rights or a movie sale? Hey, an author can dream right?
So I reach Salt Lake, find a parking spot and head in. My first clue that something is wrong is that Chris comes out of the elevator holding all four twilight books. Weird, but okay. Maybe he’s suddenly discovered Stephenie Meyer. Upstairs in the conference room though, are about a dozen romances—including Lisa’s forthcoming romantic fantasy, The Hourglass Door. Not sure what to make of this, but Chris gets right to the point.
“Scott, the committee thinks there isn’t enough kissing in your books.”
“What?” This may be the most bizarre thing I’ve heard since my daughter (now twenty) told me seventeen years ago that she had a pearl stuck up her nose. I’m sure I must have heard wrong. “Not enough what?”
“Kissing, smooching, passion,” Chris says pointing to the stack of Twilight books. “There’s not enough romance in your stories. Readers want touching, hugging, longing stares, and meaningful touches on the jaw.”
I’m not quite sure how to respond. “You do remember I write middle grade/YA fantasy right? My main characters are thirteen. They’re still not completely sure the opposite sex doesn’t have cooties.”
Lisa jumps in. “Oh, we’re not talking about Marcus and Kyja here. I mean their little kiss at the end of Water Keep was cute and all. But we’re thinking more about the elementals. What does a Land Elemental actually look like?”
Now I’m really confused. “Well technically there is no such thing as a land elemental.” Lisa and Chris give me an odd look. “You’ll get it once you read the story.”
“Well that doesn’t matter,” Chris says, pulling out some large pieces of poster board. “I’m sure you can change them. We had Brandon Dorman do a couple of sketches. These are just a few ideas of what the land elementals might look like. What do you think?”
I won’t go into detail about what land elementals look like. Or even why there is no such thing as a land elemental. That would give away too much of the story. Let me just say that the water elementals are the only elementals that look at all human. So imagine my surprise when Chris and Lisa show me a bunch of sketches of beautiful women. I start looking around for a camera or something. Finally, I shake my head. “You want the land elementals to look like Heidi Klum?”
“Not exactly like her,” Lisa says. “I mean they could have red hair, or even pink hair. And they don’t have to be super models exactly. See this one is wearing leaves. And this one has a rock necklace. They’re very land-like, don’t you think?”
When I am still confused, Chris takes over. “Here’s what we’re thinking. The economy’s slow right. So book sales are down. But women and teenage girls are still buying romance books like crazy. Look on Amazon. Twilight is like the top hundred products all by itself. Twilight hardback. Twilight paperback. Twilight audio book. Twilight picture book. Twilight pop-up. Twilight, the movie. Twilight soundtracks.”
“Right. I get it. Twilight is big.”
“Exactly,” Chris nods as though I’ve finally come to my senses. “That’s why we think you need to romanticize Far World. Think about it. What’s on the cover of Water Keep? A studly guy in a half open robe. You’ve already fought half the battle. Now you just need to put a hot-looking land elemental on the cover of book two and teenage girls will be buying up your series like mad.”
I run my fingers through my hair, still waiting for the punch line. “You are kidding right?”
“Not at all. We’ve already talked to our other authors about doing the same thing. James’ next book will introduce the 14th reality. A kind of intergalactic singles hangout. Brandon is going to have Kendra fall in love with a mummy who can’t kiss her without unraveling. And let’s just say the final book Obert Skye is going to introduce a Mrs. Thumps.”
Well as you can imagine, I argued quite a bit. But they are the publisher. And they made some good points, like, “We pay your royalties.”
So, beginning with book two, Farworld is now going to be a romantic fantasy. I’ve been practicing lines like. “Marcus gazed longingly into her eyes. Cascade’s palm lingered on the wood nymph’s cheek. Kyja sighed deeply, knowing her life would never be complete without a man who adored and stalked her.” It’s weird but, hey it’s a living.
Remember, book two comes out in September. Until then, enjoy April first.