by John Gilstrap
A few times a year (but only a few times) I devote my slice of intellectual real estate here on The Killzone to shameless self-promotion. Today is one of those days.
This will be a three-book summer for me. Threat Warning, the third installment of the Jonathan Grave thriller series, will hit the stands on July 1; but before that, in hopes of whetting readers’ appetities, Kensington will rerelease my 1998 novel, At All Costs, on May 1 (next week!). The pBook rerelease will follow in 2012.
We chose At All Costs for the first rerelease (Nathan’s Run will come out again in eBook form in August) because it actually shares literary DNA with the Grave series. That’s the book where Irene Rivers–now the director of the FBI, codenamed Wolverine in the Grave books–was first introduced. In At All Costs, she’s my protagonists’ worst nightmare as she continues to pursue them for crimes that only they know they never committed.
The rerelease strategy was my editor’s suggestion–well, sort of. During a meeting at last year’s Bouchercon in San Francisco, she mentioned that she’d like to see a story about Irene’s past. When I told her that I’d already written it, but it was now out of print, Kensington re-bought the rights, and here we are.
I’ve blogged before that it’s a daunting task to edit page proofs of a previously-published book. In the end, I didn’t change much beyond a significant reduction (but not elimination) of the F-bomb. I tried hard to keep my substantive changes to a minimum, but a few were irresistable. Take the throw-away reference to the “US Air Arena,” which, at the time I wrote the original story, was the hope of the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Washington Bullets basketball team. Since then, US Air became US Airways, the Bullets ceased to exist. The facility itself was abandoned and ultimately torn down. Last time I drove through there, it was an empty lot. I changed the throw-away reference to “a stadium.” That should stay relevant for a while.
The most interesting part of the editing process was the realization that the story would have been largely different if I had written it today. A huge section takes place at a hazardous waste site. In 1996, when I was committing the story to paper, that hazmat stuff was very much a part of my life. As I was reading through the vernacular and the images, I realized that there’s a verisimilitude there that I don’t think I could have created from my now-stale memories of my moon-suit days. Forgive the immodesty, but there are passages in the book that cause me to pause and think, “Wow, that’s really good.”
Then there was the emotion of revisiting that creative space in my mind. My son–now 25–was ten years old when I wrote At All Costs, and it’s impossible to read some passages without being taken back to where I was in my life when I penned them. Those were heady days, when the publishing industry was all hope an opportunity and unbridled success for me–the days when I was first meeting so many of the then-up-and-coming writers who would soon become fast friends, and staples of your local bookstore. I’m not one to long for turning the clock back, but I’m not above bouts of nostalgia. The act of revisiting At All Costs felt like a bit like piloting a time machine on occasion.
As I write this, I fear that I’m not explaining it well, but it’s the best I can do.
I hope you have a chance to read the book. More than that, I hope you enjoy it if you do.