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 Wrath. To Kill A Mockingbird. The 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.