I have always been a little dissatisfied with my first published novel, After, published by FSG under the pen name Claire Tristram in 2004. I had quite a supportive editorial and agent experience for a debut novelist, and the novel made enough money for my family to take a year off and travel (with an extremely careful budget) when the kids were young. And yet it didn’t quite feel like the story I wanted to tell.
Now that the novel has languished for a few years mainly as the topic of Ph.D. dissertations, selling very few copies each year, my publishers agreed to return the rights to the novel to me. I’ve spent the last several months writing–and this is actually a surprise to me–two new versions of the novel, both of which please me very much. I like them both much more than the book I originally published.
One of the new versions is harsher and more purely relentless than the original story. I love it more because it goes all the way. It has very little of the polished delicacy of the original published version. I’ve gone in a direction that I wanted to go in originally, and that my agent thought (probably correctly) would make the book harder to sell, especially as a female author.
The other new version is redemptive. I love it just as much. I took the opportunity to write a happy ending for my characters, because they deserve it, after what I’ve put them through in other versions of this story.
Vegetablian Books will soon be publishing the first revision, which is still called After by Claire Tristram. I will post to my blog when the book becomes available.
The happy-ending version is titled Changiz, also written under the pen name Claire Tristram. “Changiz” is an Iranian derivation of the name Genghis (as in Khan) and is a main character in all three versions of the story. Publication date for this version is still pending. I do plan to publish it but need to figure out how to market it as it isn’t a completely new story, even though it has substantially re-imagined outcomes.
I’m very happy that I got the rights back to my novel! And I’m happy for the chance to revisit a story that, in my mind, I wasn’t quite done with when it was first published. What a trip!
Maybe it seems bizarre to imagine writers would ever want to go back and ‘fix’ things after they’re published and after a book is out there and has its fans…but I’ve found revisiting this novel to be one of my most fulfilling and fun creative projects to date.
So that’s my news today.
May your reading days be filled with joy,