To celebrate the launch of the book, I am also giving away a copy of Prey to a randomly selected commenter - more details at the end of the post. Please feel free to say hello, leave a comment or ask Rachel a question.
So with no further delay I welcome Rachel Vincent.
Today is the official release date for Prey, the fourth Shifters novel, and in my opinion, this is the best of the series. At least so far. But it didn’t start out that way.
Prey was my problem book. If it had been a child, it would have been the stereotypical middle child, outshined by siblings. I was writing the first draft back in April of 2008, but at that point, I also had a couple of other things on my plate. Rogue came out on April 1, and a week later, my YA debut, My Soul to Take, went to auction. So I was trying to write a new book in the middle of a new release and a shiny new (terribly exciting) sale.
That’s too many new things at once. Saying I couldn’t concentrate would be like saying the ocean is kind of deep. And, frankly, that scared me very, very badly.
I’ve always prided myself on my ability to concentrate on the work at hand regardless of what’s going on around me. That’s the only way I get any work done, because no matter how it looks from the outside, my life is not calm and peaceful. Writing is almost never the only thing I have going on, and I rarely get to do it in silence. Or even mostly-quiet.
So, even though I hadn’t intended for those three major career events to line up as they did, I thought I’d be able to handle it. All of it. Easily.
I was wrong. The work suffered.
“Why?” You may ask. “Releases and auctions are good things!”
Yes, they are, and I’m incredibly grateful to have experienced them both. But they’re also very, very stressful and time consuming. As you may have noticed, I try to do lots of online promo for my books, because I feel like I can reach more readers per promo dollar spent that way, than any other way. But that means doing bunches of interviews and Q&As, and sometimes struggling to find creative ways to answer questions I’ve been asked a dozen times or more. Or searching desperately for a guest blog topic I haven’t already beaten to death. And counting/approving contest entries, and keeping the cut-off dates and winners addresses organized in my head.
In addition to all that, my email volume shoots through the roof in the two week period surrounding each new release. And since I answer all my own email, that means hours spent at the keyboard every day, not writing.
As for the auction, yes, that’s another very good thing. Very exciting, and validating, and flattering. But it also comes with huge doses of nerves and doubt, and—at least in this particular case—up to eight calls a day from my agent. And sometimes conference calls with some of the editors involved. And much soul searching and advice seeking. And worries, and hopes, and what-ifs. And sometimes a we-need-an-answer-by-a-certain-time deadline.
No pressure, right?
And then, just when everything began to calm down—My Soul to Take found a home and Rogue survived its first week in the wild—and I thought I’d be free to concentrate on Prey… revisions for Pride came in.
Yes, seriously. So I had to put aside the rough draft—again—and get the revisions out of the way, because I typically have a pretty tight deadline for revisions.
By the time I was free to concentrate in full on Prey…I’d lost the feel of the story. I still had my outline, but I was no longer in that place, if that makes sense. And Prey, as it turns out, is the turning point for the entire Shifters series, which means I really needed to nail it. Perfectly.
I’d written a couple of real bombshells into the plot, and I needed to be in a certain place, emotionally, to write them. One of them (chapters 16 & 17), I got right the first time around. For which I’m eternally grateful. But chapter 19 was another story entirely. I waffled on that one. Asked advice from CP, agent, and editor, and got conflicting advice from all three. I’m not even sure how that’s possible, since my question was of the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I variety.
But, as is my policy, I powered through the rough draft, polished it twice, then turned it in.
A couple of months later, I got a call from my editor. The book just wasn’t working. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but that’s the gist of it. So for the first time in my career, I sat down to do a major rewrite. A complete plot overhaul.
Ironically enough, that overhaul did not involve those two bombshell sections (except for fleshing out ch. 19). Evidently I put all my energy and focus into getting those right, and neglected the actual one-book (as opposed to the series-wide) plot arc.
Rewriting the book hurt. And it was hard. Not just tedious (as edits can sometimes be) or challenging (who doesn’t like a challenge?). I mean it was just old-fashioned hard work. Plain and simple. But I am so incredibly relieved and thrilled to say that the work paid off. In my opinion, this is by far the best of the Shifters books. And if this is what it takes for me to truly reach my potential as a writer, I say bring on the hard work. I’m ready. I’m in this for the long haul. For the war, not just for the battle.
I’m in this for the stories that must be told. Prey is one of those. I hope it moves you as much as it moved me.
Thank you Rachel for your time, and sharing your thoughts on the creative journey that produced Prey, and more importantly for giving us all many, many hours of terrific reading.
To get a copy of Prey into a lucky readers hands quickly, the giveaway runs only until Friday July 3 at Midnight. I will announce the winner in my Saturday Urban Fantasy Weekend Report. The rules are simple - leave a comment and a way to reach you. Open to everyone worldwide. If you'd like to post a link to the interview for an extra entry, please leave a link in your comment.
Rachel has a very busy summer with the My Soul To Take, the first book in her Soul Screamers young adult series from Harlequin Teen also coming August 1. You will be able to learn more about it, when Rachel returns to SciFiGuy.ca for another guest appearance on July 29. Today is also the release of the Soul Screamers prequel My Soul To Lose in exclusive ebook format. Details here.
- Stray (2007)
- Rogue (2008)
- Pride (2009)
- Prey (July 1, 2009)
- Shift (March 2010)
- Alpha (October 2010)