A book, we all know, is a journey.

It’s a journey for the characters involved in the story.  From the opening sentence to the final line, what happens on the pages between changes them.  At the end, they may not be any better off, any richer or wiser, but if it’s a good book, what the characters have experienced has made them different in important ways.

It’s a journey for the reader.  A good book ought to transport readers, for a while take them someplace else entirely.  A great book not only transports, but it offers readers an opportunity to be changed.  Think of the great books you’ve read.  The Grapes of WrathTo Kill A MockingbirdThe Old Man and the Sea.  I’m willing to bet your understanding and appreciation of the world has been broadened and enriched by the journey of your reading.

A books is certainly a journey for the author.  Especially if that author takes risks.  And I’ve taken my share.  I’ve killed off favorite characters, brought Jesus onstage for a guest appearance, written a book that had no end (something I’ll never do again!).  Each of these books, each of these individual and very different journeys, has, to a degree, altered my perceptions and my writing.

This summer, I’ve embarked on another kind of journey, one inspired by the publication of new trade paperback editions of the Cork O’Connor series.  Between June and September, my publisher, Atria Books, will be bringing out the entire series backlist with a stunning new look.  As a result, I’ve decided to take a new look myself at all the works behind me, to take a journey down a road I traveled long ago in the creation these stories.  I’ll reread each of them, from the debut Iron Lake to the most recent release, Red Knife.  And I’ll report to you about that journey: what impresses me, what disappoints me, the mistakes I see that, were it possible, I would change, and those moments I discover that are the kind every writer lives for, when I nailed a scene, a character, an emotion with absolutely the right words.

I’d love to have you join me.  Every week, I’ll give you a report from the road and some postcard pictures as well.  Here’s hoping the wind is always at our backs.

6 thoughts on “A book, we all know, is a journey.”

  1. Kent, I wonder how many other authors have done what you’re about to–reread every book they’ve written from first to last. It’s sounds both intriguing and daunting, like viewing old photographs of oneself: some you like, others make you cringe (usally the ones from high school). This should be interesting!

  2. I just wanted to say how I am enjoying your book series. I read a lot, and the characters you draw are the most real, believable, and engaging characters of any I have found. I have yet to find a “stretch,” or something that feels like a contrivance, in any of your books (just finished my fourth). Thank you.

    Ann Fennell

    BTW, I just happened to think (honestly – as I started to sign my name, I just thought “here’s someone who would know”) – do publishers ever hire proofreaders?

    Your books are some of the very few in which I have found no typo’s, tense/spelling, etc. errors, or story inconsistencies (maybe slight geographical). Such things literally jump out at me. I don’t speedread; I read for pleasure or learning and read slowly and read every word and it all has to make sense to me.

    I’m a retired programmer/analyst and have written many technical manuals that have to be precise – perhaps that’s the why of it. I catch things that were clearly misheard from dictation or where the name of a science fiction species is mentioned early on with an “i” and later with an “e.” Minor things, certainly, unless a writer or publisher is wanting “perfect.” Just thought I’d ask if such a thing as proofreading still exists.

    Thank you again for your great books, which bring me many hours of pleasure and even some insights; I really like books with an insight here and there. Plus, I have always felt an affinity for the Native American spirit and mindset (perhaps in a past life…).

    For instance, (I keep a computer file of thoughts I like and want to remember, along with book and author so I give credit where credit is due.) “…to understand the way Kitchimanidoo means for his children to live together well upon the earth.” and “If you’re not careful, what you see in someone is what you’re looking for.” as well as “…white people were just like puppies. If one peed on a tree, all the others had to pee on it too.” (Blood Hollow)

  3. Ann, my publisher, and probably most, use contracted copyeditors who function as proofreaders, checkers of continuity, and suggesters of alternative grammar when I’ve really botched the English language. A good copyeditor is essential. I don’t know how my publisher chooses my copyeditor. I’ve had several over the years, some much better than others.


  4. Ms. Fennell,

    The best thing to do is simply email the publisher. Check the website for the appropriate contact. An editorial assistant or associate usually handles this kind of stuff.

    Most publishers will send you a copyediting or proofreading test. Based on how well you do on the tests, they may or may not put you on their list of freelance copyeditors and proofreaders.

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