Siren Song

Last weekI had the unusual experience of reading the comments an editor made while passing on my novel. The Queen’s Pawn is being looked at by editors in nine houses inNew York. Three of these houses have passed so far, which is to be expected. I have been at this awhile, so I am never surprised by rejection. I am, however surprised by compliments.

Last week’s pass was particularly surprising. The editor, a well respected woman at a house I have alwayshoped to work with, was so pleased with my stylethat she would readthe same novelagain with an eye toward buying it, if I were tomake major changes.

I am stillconsidering her comments. To hear anything complimentary in the subjective and often acidic business of publishing is rare. I will admit that Iam tempted.Temptation is a new concept for me; this is the first time someone has asked me to modify my original vision to this extent.

The comments offered by the editor would add strength and dimension to the novel, would take it into different territory than I ever conceived for it. It would be a different book.

While this is not a bad thing, I hesitate. Ihave a pact with the protagonist to tell her story to the best of my ability. To make changes thatmight takethe novelaway from her woulddefeat the purpose of writing thebook in the first place.(Alais, for those interested in historical fiction, is theyoung Frenchprincesswho makes a small appearance in both the play and the film, The Lion in Winter.)

Likemost women in history,Alais was silent during her lifetime. No one makes movies about her, or write booksor plays in her honor, as they do for the people whosurrounded her:Philippe Auguste of France, Henry II of England, Richard the Lionhearted, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. She lived and died in silence, her reputationforged in the fires of the actions of others.

In The Queen’s Pawn, I hope to giveAlais some semblance of a voice. It is not possible to speak for the dead, but I hope to honor her.

But I digress. The question remains, to change the novel, or to leave it intact?

It is a question I will have to answer. But if I make changesto The Queen’s Pawn, the novel will remain Alais’ story. She and I have been partners in the work for two years. The story will remain hers, no matter what else is added to it.

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