by J.D. Rhoades
But according to this article in the New York Times on “writers who abandon novels”, it seems that lot of, not just “real writers”, but famous, talented and respected ones, have started works they never finished for various reasons.
Some writers who admit to having dropped projects might surprise you. Stephanie Meyer apparently stopped work on her “Twilight” spin-off “Midnight Sun” after 12 chapters were leaked to the Internet because, she says, she felt “too sad.” Whether she was angry about the leak or the quality of the work is not specified in the NYT article. Harper Lee allegedly quit work on her second novel, tentatively titled “The Long Goodbye,” after “To Kill A Mockingbird” became such a runaway success. “When you’re at the top,” she told a relative, “there’s only one way to go.” Maybe she also got “too sad” after realizing Raymond Chandler had already written a book by that name.
Well, if these people can admit to abandoning their children, I guess I can. Some of my foundlings include:
DEVILS AND DUST- the fourth Jack Keller novel and the wrap up of the series. where Jack has to go looking for his friend and sometime sidekick Oscar Sanchez, who’s disappeared while looking for his sons who went missing while trying to enter the country.
Reason for abandoning: lack of enthusiasm for another Keller novel on the part of my publisher.
DYING BREED- another “redneck noir” novel about two young men who grew up in foster care. One turned out okay, one went bad, but the “bad” one shanghais the “good” one into a doomed plan to rescue their mother from the clutches of her boyfriend, a small time drug dealer trying to go big time by ripping off his sadistic boss. Pretty soon everyone’s in way over their heads, including a couple of cynical DEA agents on the trail of said boss.
Reason for abandoning: My agent said, and I quote: “I don’t love it.” I did end up lifting the twin redneck bodyguards, Liberty and Justice, and using them in LAWYERS, GUNS AND MONEY, where they’re not quite as evil, but still scary.
THE KING’S JUSTICE-definitely not the sort of thing you’ve come to expect from me, this was a medieval-fantasy post-apocalyptic mystery. Several hundred years ago, a war that culminated in the magical equivalent of a nuclear exchange killed every wizard on both sides, destroyed most of their armies, and left a huge swath of territory not only devastated, but polluted by residual and unpredictable magic. Now, in time of peace, the area is beginning to be re-settled, but it’s still a wild frontier. The King’s authority is maintained by travelling Justices such as the portly, jolly, and shrewd Master Justice Taras Flinn, who travels from town to town with his Watson-like apprentice and their valet Jacky (a former thief), holding court, solving mysteries, and looking for the next inn where he can get a decent meal and a tankard of ale.
Reason for abandoning: I’d put a couple of short Taras Flinn pieces up on an early e-pubbing site called MightyWords and gotten some good feedback, (and a couple of dollars). Then MightyWords went toes-up, I started writing The Devil’s Right Hand, and that’s the one that sold. (And just a reminder: The Devil’s Right Hand is now available again for Kindle, Nook, etc. for only .99 for a limited time).
LIGHTFOOT: this sci-fi adventure featuring a lone-wolf, wisecracking space-freighter captain was abandoned because it sucked. I mean really sucked. It taught me that I absolutely wasn’t ready to write SF. Let us draw a veil over it and speak of it no more.
The New York Times article mentions that sometimes “dead” projects rise again: Stephen King’s recent “Under the Dome,” for example, was an abandoned project from 30 years ago that finally clicked.
So, fellow ‘Rati, spill: what abandoned children are sitting on your hard drive? Have you ever looted them for parts, characters, dialogue, etc. for use on other works? Anything you might ever go back to, or is there a project that you feel needs a stake through its heart to stay dead? Finally, when, if at all, do you know it’s time to let a failing project go?