Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The Book Arrives!

So, it's release day. In a weird way, it's feeling kind of anticlimactic. Much of my life for the past year or so has been building to this day, and now it's here and just another day. Later I'll head out to at least visit my book in stores, but otherwise, I have a lot of other work to keep me busy.

In honor of release day, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the book itself. When I first had the idea for the book that became Enchanted, Inc., long before I started writing it at all, I knew I wanted it to be a series about the continuing adventures of the same main character. I thought I'd like to have several viable romantic interests along the way. In my daydreams, I liked to imagine people getting into Internet message board or newsgroup discussions and debates about which guy she should end up with, kind of like the "Ranger vs. Joe" discussions around the Stephanie Plum books. I had no idea what the sequels would be about (I barely knew what the first book would be about). In fact, for a while I was thinking that the second book would involve the heroine having to go straighten out the London office of her company. The first book was originally called "Magic, Spells and Illusions, Inc." and I thought the sequel could be "Magic, Spells and Illusions, LTD."

Of course, none of that happened. I've yet to see any kind of message board discussion about the content of my books. Lots of "read this!" recommendations, but no real discussion of the book itself among readers. I don't think there's even a LiveJournal community for fans of my books for discussion (and I will try not to pout about that). The London sequel never came about, either, and probably won't, as I can't see that happening the way I have the series set up now.

Where the sequel idea came from was an offhand remark in (I think) chapter four of Enchanted, Inc., when someone mentions a possibility of something that might happen, and I suddenly knew as I wrote it that it was something that would have to happen to my main character. I had to get a little more concrete about the sequel story when it looked like there was a possibility that the book would sell, and my agent made me write up a one-page synopsis for the sequel. I took my trusty notebook to the B&N coffee shop, brainstormed, and then outlined the plot.

The next key element came about after I got the book deal. Back when I was still trying to find an agent and had just had the full manuscript requested by Kristin (who became my agent), I went shopping with a friend one day. We had to make the usual pilgrimage to the Nordstrom's shoe department, where I saw this fabulous pair of red stilettos. Something about them called out to my soul, and I knew I HAD to have them. There were impractical and sexy and frivolous (and expensive) -- all things that I most certainly am not, but they spoke to my soul in a weird way. I told my friend that if I sold the book, I'd buy the shoes. Over the next several months, I visited my shoes in the store a few times. I started dreaming up outfits I could wear with them.

And then the book finally sold, along with the unwritten sequel. I called my friend to tell her, and she immediately suggested we go shoe shopping. So we went to Nordstrom's, and I got the last pair in my size. I had a moment of panic -- did I really want them? Were they too flashy, too not me? -- but went through with buying them. I was still convincing myself that buying them was the right thing to do, even as we drove home. We were sitting in my car at my friend's place before I dropped her off, and she was still trying to convince me that buying the shoes was a good thing. I agreed with her, then added, "Hey, they're magic shoes!"

I got that tingle again, that sense that this was something that had to go in the book. It became a central motif in the book, a major clue, and the opening line.

The book was originally titled Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered, but soon after I finished the manuscript I found out we'd have to change it because another book with the same title would be coming out not long before mine. We spent a while trying to dream something up, and then one of the Ballantine copywriters had a 2 a.m. burst of inspiration and came up with Once Upon Stilettos. The original title was very apt for the book, but I think the one we ended up with is probably catchier, unless you're a fan of Rodgers and Hart and can sing all three zillion verses (the Ella Fitzgerald version is more than seven minutes long).

This afternoon I'll be visiting the book in stores (and I hope it's actually there this time). I need to get a new signing pen. For the last book, I had a set of four pastel metallic gel pens that coordinated with the cover, but I think for this one, I'll get a red metallic gel pen. I also need to come up with a good generic thing to sign in books, since autographing books is worse than trying to sign yearbooks and think of something clever to say on the spot that won't make you cringe twenty years later. I have no idea what cute outfit to wear to visit my book today. Most of my planned booksigning clothes are for warm weather, and we had a freak cold front come through, so I may even need long sleeves.

Meanwhile, I got through the first four chapters of book 3 last night and managed to cut 3,000 words, so it may not be such an epic tome, after all. I should have also started watching pertinent Battlestar Galactica episodes, but I was tired from exercise class and didn't want to be analytical, so I was a slacker and watched my tape of the Masterpiece Theater Thomas Hardy dramatization that was on Sunday. And shall we pause for a moment to contemplate how cool my job is: I was slacking by watching a literary adaptation on Masterpiece Theater when "work" would have been watching Battlestar Galactica.

PS: Buy my book!!!!

1 comment:

Amanda Ashby said...

Enjoy your book day, Shanna!