About ten years ago, I sat down at my computer to write my third novel. I didn’t have a publisher for it, but I felt compelled to write the story about two sisters who’d been estranged for fifteen years. It was a fish-out-of-water story, too, about a woman raised in a small Georgia town yet firmly entrenched in her New York City lifestyle, who’s suddenly forced to ask the question of whether or not you can really go home again.
That book, FALLING HOME, was published in the summer of 2002 in mass-market format and with a cover depicting a glass of pink lemonade with a lipstick mark on the top. It wasn’t the cover I’d envisioned for the book, yet I was pleased to have the book out on bookstore shelves so I could share the story with readers. And readers seemed to love the story as much as I had, so much so that when the book disappeared from bookstore shelves a short while later I continued to get mail from readers desperate to find it. Those letters have continued ever since, especially as used copies were the only ones available and were being sold for really silly prices.
Fast-forward seven years, and the rights to the book belong to me again. My current publisher, New American Library, repurchases the rights, and schedules publication for November, 2010. They give the book a beautiful new cover, and then I’m given the opportunity to revise the book.
I was hesitant at first. After all, readers loved the story and they loved Cassie, Harriet, Maddie, Sam and the rest of the inhabitants of Walton, Georgia. But then I realized that I didn’t need to change any of that at all. Instead, I wanted to enhance the book by challenging myself to write it better. After all, since FALLING HOME was originally published, I’d written nine more novels. From experience, my writing had become tighter; more observant; more concise. I wanted to use this experience to make a better book. And I think I’ve accomplished this with the 2010 rendition of FALLING HOME.
To readers familiar with the older version, the most obvious difference you’ll notice is the addition of two more points of view. Whereas the original story was told only through Cassie’s eyes, the new version is also told from Harriet’s and Maddie’s points of view to give the reader more insight into the characters and their motivations. What might not be so noticeable is the “tightening” of the words. I’ve tried to rewrite scenes using less words, realizing I can get my point across more quickly if my readers aren’t stumbling over a whole lot of words that are saying the same thing.
Ultimately, I still love this book as much as I did when I originally wrote it. I laughed at the funny parts, and cried at the sad parts, and sighed happily when I finally reached “The End.” And that, to me, is the sign of a good read, whether it’s old or new.