Saturday, August 16, 2008

Between the cape and the sword

Okay, I'm back from 16th century France.
At 10:43 on 8/15/08, I finally finished the edits/revisions to The Confessions of Catherine de Medici . This was without a doubt the most challenging edit I've ever done, not only in terms of the volume of sheer work, but in all the subtle adjustments that had to be made both mentally and emotionally as the novel morphed into its current incarnation.
At times, I honestly thought the book would crumble apart and found myself ruing the day I decided I could tackle such a difficult subject. Catherine led a long, eventful, and unbelievably complicated life; the decision during this revision rapidly became one that often put me, as they say in Spain, between the cape and the sword. I had to make very tough decisions between what must stay and what must go; and when you're writing a historical novel that covers an actual person's life, that is not an easy thing to do. In fact, I had an agonizing few weeks when I wondered if I could even do her justice, given the constraints.

Nevertheless, by the end I had cut 193 pages; wrote 10 new scenes and revised 35 others; removed 5 secondary characters and 2 major ones; and, much to my surprise, fashioned what I think is a far more concise and accessible book, one that can be enjoyed by every reader, including those without knowledge of the history of France at this time. Go, figure.

The manuscript is now off to my agent, who'll read it and let me know if I've done my job. I desperately need fresh eyes. Working so intensely on a book as I have these past months ends up blinding you to its flaws. Living with Madame de Medici has been an immensely rewarding, demanding, exhausting and exhilarating journey. Now, all I want for the moment is bad TV!

I also have some great news to share: THE LAST QUEEN will be going into a second printing. Also, I've posted event photos throughout this post for you to chuckle over. These were taken on 8/7 at Bookshop West Portal. We had a Last Queen cake, wine, cheese and lots of people celebrating the book's release. Wish some of you could have been there!


Justin Aucoin said...

Between the cape and the sword...

I like the sound of that phrase.

Congrats on the second printing and on finishing your edits. Chopping 193 pages is no small feat. I can only imagine how grueling the process must've been.

Hope all is well!

Amy said...

You've got my mouth watering for the Medici book! I love reading about her! Congrats on the second printing. I've read The Last Queen and absolutely loved it! You are incredibly talented and I look forward to reading more from you!

Lezlie said...

I don't know if you drink or not, but it sounds to me like a good martini is called for. :-) I can't wait to see the Medici book!!

Books 'N Border Collies

C.W. Gortner said...

Thank you Amy and Lezlie, your enthusiasm for my work means so much to me. And yes, I'm relieved the revision is off my desk, at leasy for a while. I do drink a little; mostly wine, and so I had a nice glass of Sangre de Toro (a Spanish wine) to celebrate. Then we watched three episodes of The Tudors. I can't get enough of Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn; I'm going to miss her this coming season 3. I also plan to sleep more and relax for a month, then start a new project. I have one lined up; just need my agent to weigh in on its viability.

Hey, Justin- Yep, it is a cool saying. In Spanish, Entre la capa y la espada. I saw the new Perez Reverte is out. I'm planning on getting it this weekend. Oh, and I'm reading a marvelous novel I think you might like. It's Brethren by Robyn Young, set in the Middle Ages and about a secret society within the Templars. I usually don't go for that type of stuff (so over the DaVinci Code!) but this book is adventuresome and features a panoramic view of the era. I highly recommend it. It's the first in a trilogy.I'm hoping to lure her here for an interview.

C.W. Gortner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Aucoin said...

'The King's Gold' is awesome. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. I just have the Epilogue to finish. There were several times I almost, literally, leaped out of my seat in excitement. For a small band of my friends, the Alatriste novels are the equivalent of the Harry Potter novels.

So, I've been reading that and 'Last Queen' in the little spare time I have between work, writing and rehearsals (not enough hours in the day :-D). I'll have to check 'Brethren' out, too. Thanks for the rec'.

Amanda said...

Well done on getting Catherine's edit behind you! I'm really looking forward to your book on her, she was a remarkable woman in a fascinating time. Glad to see you like the Bretheren too, as it is on my TBR pile too!

I'm not sure what to do with myself at the moment with being down. Guess I'll read some more!

Sarah Bower said...

Christopher - love the photos - looks as though a good time was had by all - and well deserved. You know I would have loved to have been there. The edit sounds hell - enjoy many hours of trash TV!