On Editing Your Heroes
by Liz Gorinsky, Associate Editor, Tor Books
They say that editors are born, not made. But few people who looked at the books I was reading as a teenager would have guessed that I had a future as a literary gatekeeper. Back in my early teens, I was one of those readers that I barely find credible now that I'm a Lofty Publishing Professional. Once I’d discovered my particular fondness for science fiction and fantasy, I began to compulsively haunt my library’s F&SF section, scrutinizing all the books with interesting titles or spines and taking home anything that matched some ineffable set of qualities I surely couldn't have articulated at the time. I rarely bothered with cover copy, and I never even thought about seeking out books that were critically acclaimed or had won awards. But after I happened upon an author by random chance, if I wound up liking them I would proceed to read anything of theirs I could get my hands on: borrowing from friends, scrounging around library book sales for quarter paperbacks, even buying (gulp) full-priced books to fill in the gaps. The number of trashy books I tore through back then that I'd be mortified to read on the subway now surely must have numbered in the thousands.
But sometimes I got lucky. One such case was Dave Duncan, who I stumbled on by accident; then I inhaled his entire oeuvre (some two dozen books at the time) within a few months. I noticed right away that they were just as easy to read and purely entertaining as the other books I favored. It took longer to realize that they weren’t just that: his characters were more sympathetic and more realistic and his magical systems more robust; the books were devoid of the unfortunate turns of phrase and plot incongruities that sometimes mar other light fantasy. As the evidence mounted, it dawned on me that Dave’s writing had a special kind of alchemy: In retrospect, his books provided some of my earliest evidence that not all authors are created equal, even within the pulpy paperback racks of my beloved genre.
Over the next few years, I became increasingly particular in my tastes and began to observe and categorize the qualities that drove me as a reader. As I grew up, this growing pickiness slowly pushed me towards my (completely unforeseen) career as a book editor. And eventually—about ten years after I’d discovered him as a teen—I was given the task of editing the two new Dave Duncan books that Tor had just acquired, a duology comprised of Children of Chaos and Mother of Lies. As you can imagine, it was, well, sort of mind-bending.
Although multivolume quest fantasies are no longer the bulk of my recreational reading, whenever I work with Dave’s books, I have a clearer idea of who I’m editing for than with any of my other authors, because I can think back to my teenaged self and others like her; to kids and adults the world round who can’t get enough of magical powers, battles between good and evil, or faraway lands, and who know just how fine such stories can be in the hands of the rare wizard who cares enough to make them better than they need to be. Dave Duncan still stands in my mind as one of the finest crafters of fantasy worlds working today. If you haven’t yet fallen under his spell, I hope you’ll pick up the Dodec duology, concluding this month with Mother of Lies, and make his acquaintance.
Mother of Lies, by Dave Duncan (0-7653-1484-3; $24.95 / $31.00 CAN), was released in hardcover in May 2007.
A few words from Terry Goodkind about: Confessor, the culminating novel of the Sword of Truth; Phantom, and the Sword of Truth movie!
Here is a preview of what is to come in Confessor, on-sale this November*:
Descending into darkness, about to be overwhelmed by evil, those people still free are powerless to stop the coming dawn of a savage new world. Richard faces the guilt of knowing that he must let this happen. Alone, he must bear the weight of a sin he dare not confess to the one person he loves…and has lost.
Join Richard and Kahlan in the concluding novel of one of the most remarkable and memorable journeys ever written. It started with one rule, and will end with the rule of all rules, the rule unwritten, the rule unspoken since the dawn of history.
When next the sun rises, the world will be forever changed.
In Phantom, now available in mass market paperback, readers can find out why Kahlan Amnell has become the most dangerous woman alive:
On the day she awoke remembering nothing but her name, Kahlan Amnell became the most dangerous woman in the world. For that was the day that the world began to end.
Kahlen’s husband, Richard, desperately searches for his beloved, knowing that if she doesn't soon discover who she really is, she will unwittingly become the instrument that will unleash annihilation. But Kahlan learns that if she unlocks the truth of her lost identity, then evil itself will finally possess her, body and soul.
If she is to survive in this world of deception, she must discover why she is such a central figure in it. What she will uncover are secrets darker than she could ever have imagined….
“Expertly juggles many complex plot lines and brings to life a host of colorful characters.” —Publishers Weekly
Phantom was a # 1 New York Times Bestseller—a #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller—and a #1 Publishers Weekly Bestseller!!
And for those of you who haven’t heard yet, Sam Raimi has optioned film rights for my Sword of Truth series.
Sam Raimi, director of the hugely successful Spider-Man films, and his producing partner, Joshua Donen, have optioned film rights for the Sword of Truth series.
Despite having been approached by Hollywood a number of times over the past decade, I was never convinced that these 400,000 word novels could be successfully compressed into worthwhile feature films. Raimi and Donen met with me at my home and proposed a groundbreaking mini-series. It took some work, but they convinced me they were serious—and that this would be the best way to honor the vision of the original work.
It’s a dream come true to work with someone of such remarkable vision, talent, and ability. Given Sam’s sincere love for these stories and his determination to only make great films, this mini-series will be a watershed event.
Raimi and Donen hope to begin production of the opening mini-series, Wizard’s First Rule, within the next year.
Fans have plenty to look forward to with a triple dose of Terry Goodkind; Phantom is available now in paperback (0-765-34432-7; $7.99/ $10.99 CAN) ( a video interview with Terry about Phantom is available here); Confessor (0-765-31523-8' $29/95/ $36.95 CAN) will go on-sale November 13th* (*please note: all on-sale dates are subject to change); and production of the opening mini-series, Wizard’s First Rule, is slated to begin within the next year.
Writing The Lost Constitution
by William Martin
A modern treasure hunter searches for a priceless document…
The contemporary thriller meets the historical novel. A race against time becomes a race through time. And two stories become one…
I didn’t invent the genre, but I’ve sure had fun with it. So have the readers who’ve enjoyed some of my earlier bestsellers—Back Bay, Cape Cod, and Harvard Yard.
This one got started after I took a trip to the Massachusetts Historical Society. I wanted to see one of the sixteen copies of the first draft of the Constitution that still exist.
Only sixty were printed for the 1787 Constitutional Convention. The delegates were supposed to deliberate in secret, and the public was not supposed to know what was going on until they read the final draft.
The draft at the Massachusetts Historical Society belonged to a delegate named Elbridge Gerry. Here’s one of his notations: “No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the authority of the United States.” Seems obvious today, but in the eighteenth century? Groundbreaking.
When I touched that draft, I could feel the Framers thinking America into existence. Never before had I fully understood what Madison said about the Constitution: “Every word decides a question between liberty and power.”
So what to do with an experience like that? Well, I’m a storyteller. My highest goal is to keep people turning pages long after they should have been asleep. So naturally, I begin to play the game, “What if…?”
What if there was another draft out there? And it was annotated by a group of New England delegates? And they left their thoughts about the shape of the Bill of Rights? What if… that first draft was stolen from Philadelphia in 1787?
Lost for two centuries in the shadows of American history, now it’s worth millions… and what’s more, a political fight is brewing over the repeal of the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms.
Along come Peter Fallon and Evangeline Carrington, the main characters from Harvard Yard and Back Bay. He’s a Boston guy from the neighborhood, went to Harvard, and sells rare books to the upper crust. She’s from the upper crust and doesn’t much care. They argue all the time, but look out for each other, too.
She likes the idea of repealing the Second Amendment. He likes the idea of finding the truth, no matter what it is. It isn’t the first time they’ve disagreed. Nor is it the first time that they’ve gotten themselves into trouble.
There are a lot of people out there who’d kill to get their hands on that draft. Some want it for the money. Some want it because in every fight over the Constitution, people want to know what the Framers really meant.
In action that swirls from Shays’s Rebellion in 1787 to a climax at Fenway Park on the first night of the World Series, Peter and Evangeline race through history and across New England to find—and save—the lost Constitution.
Along the way they get to ask some big questions: Who owns America? Where is our Republic headed, at a time when the Constitution seems so often under attack?
The Lost Constitution will make you wonder, and maybe help you find a few answers. As Peter Fallon would say, you don’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’ve been.
The Lost Constitution (A Forge hardcover; 0-765-30326-4, $24.95) by William Martin was released in May 2007. Click here to watch a short video interview with the author and learn more about this book.
My Own Personal Dreamquest
by Brent Hartinger
A girl plagued by nightmares wakes up one night in a land called Slumberia inside a “dream-studio,” the place inside her own brain where they “film” her nightly dreams. To stop her nightmares, the girl has to confront first the dreamwriter, then the dream-producers, then finally the evil dream-executives in far-away Nightmare City.
That’s the concept for my new kids’ book, Dreamquest, the first in a series called Tales of Slumberia.
And while the ideas for most of my books are the result of weeks of furious brainstorming, the idea for Dreamquest came to me almost fully formed.
Many years ago, I was in the middle of a terrifying nightmare, when my mind “woke up” inside the dream. I looked around and saw that the scene around me was obviously a set. I saw the camera being used to film the dream, and the crew behind the camera.
So I walked over to the dream-director and said, “Look, do you mind? This dream is really, really scary! Please stop making it!” But he wouldn’t stop, so I kept traveling on, trying to get someone, anyone, to listen to me.
I often have dreams that I think would make terrific stories while I’m dreaming them, then don’t seem so hot in the clear light of the following morning. But when I woke up the morning after that dream, my first thought was, “Ohhhhh! That was the real deal!”
Even then, the idea hadn’t come out of nowhere. At the time, I was struggling in the trenches of Hollywood, desperate to get someone, anyone, to read my books and screenplays. I wanted to tell stories—to make people smile, and to maybe help make the world a better place.
For a lot of the producers and executives I met, making movies and publishing books weren’t about making people smile, and they definitely weren’t about making the world a better place; they were about making money. And these people would say or do almost anything in order to make more money.
You hear a lot about people like this Hollywood. What you don’t hear a lot about are the other people in that town: the writers, directors, actors, and, yes, even producers and executives who are there because they have stories to tell.
These people are the dreamers, the reason for every good story that’s ever been told. Trust me: behind every great story is someone who worked his or her rear-end off to bring that vision into the world. Someone who took personal disappointments and nightmares and turned them into dreams.
The dreamers are in my book too. They’re the ones who want to make Slumberia a better place. They literally want to turn nightmares into dreams.
The truth is, Dreamquest isn’t really about Hollywood. It’s about anywhere where profits are put ahead of people, and about anyone who’s fighting against that. Sadly, it’s more timely today than when I first woke up with the idea.
I hope you enjoy this little book that started out as a dream. Getting it published was something of a nightmare. But now that it’s out there, it’s definitely a dream come true.
Brent’s website is www.brenthartinger.com.
Follow Brent Hartinger into Slumberia in Dreamquest (0-765-31397-9; $16.95 / $21.00 CAN), a Starscape hardcover, released in May 2007.