Thursday, January 22, 2009

My Buffy Novel (Part II)

In a previous post, I wrote about how I finished writing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel, only to discover that it needed to be twice as long as it was in order to meet the submission guidelines. Now, the rational thing would have been to leave well enough alone, but I hit upon the crazy idea of expanding the novel by having two linked storylines (one set with the characters as of Season 2, one set with the characters as of Season 7) told through alternating chapters. There's certainly been far more complex structures for novels, and I think it allowed me to draw some nice contrasts between how characters had changed over time, but for a Buffy novel it probably made for a pretty confusing story. Anyway, after writing the second dozen chapters, I finally had a complete novel. Finishing it was more of a relief than a joy--I frankly found the writing more of a chore than a pleasure. Still, as naive of the publishing world as I was, I sent it off to several agents (form letters) and then off to Simon & Schuster (no response).

What took me a long time to discover is that, even if the novel were any good, publishers of media tie-in novels (anything from Star Wars to Alias to Buffy) simply aren't going to take any chances on new authors. Media tie-in novels are almost exclusively written by authors who have already established themselves by writing and (having published) novels with their own original characters. The second thing which I probably should have pieced together is that by the time I finished my novel, Buffy as a pop culture phenomena had declined far below its circa Season 2-3 peak. Buffy novels were being published more and more rarely, and I chose a pretty bad time to jump on the band-wagon (of course, now would probably be the worst time, as I'm not even sure if the novel line is still active at all).

The story has a happy ending, however. During all those Sunday afternoons I was writing my novel, my then-sig other decided he might as well start writing a novel he had been thinking about since he was twelve years old. Although I found writing a grind, he loved the process and crafted a great indigenous fantasy story that ended up being published as the The Way of Thorn and Thunder trilogy.

Although Hell Frozen Over will never be published, I feel a sense of accomplishment in having finished the damn thing and I'm looking forward to re-reading it someday, after many years have passed, to see just what the hell I was thinking . . .

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