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Story Behind the Story #32: Keep Your Eye on Amanda

Keep Your Eye on AmandaWhen I was a boy, living in New York City, my parents took The New York Times. I thought it was a very dull paper. It had no cartoons, not even political ones. Its rival, The New York Herald Tribune, not only had cartoons, but ran a daily serial for kids by Thornton W. Burgess. These animal stories were illustrated by Harrison Cady. When I had the chance to read the Tribune, I always read these tales. It was a happy day for me when I learned they had also been published in book form, and I could buy them at a nearby used bookstore for twenty five cents a volume.

The point is that serialization made a big impression on me.

When I wrote Beyond the Western Sea, recently written about in this blog, I structured the book with short chapters, as if it were a serialized story.

By the time I finished that book I was living in Colorado, where there were small, local newspapers. These newspapers seemed far more accessible than the New York Times. Why not, I asked myself, write a serialized story for these papers? And then raccoons invaded my house one night in search of pantry food and gave me the idea for a story: Keep Your Eye on Amanda, a serialized story of twenty-one chapters. I contacted local Boulder illustrator Janet Stevens and she indicated a willingness to do the art.

The first newspaper interested in running the serial was in Colorado Springs, the Gazette Telegraph.

It was enormously successful. It was so successful I could not handle the volume of newspaper interest, but my wife, Linda Wright, could. She took the publishing venture—now called Breakfast Serials—and grew it with such success that Breakfast Serials created a readership of some thirty-three million annual readers per chapter. Indeed, at its high point, Breakfast Serials was perhaps the publisher with the nation’s largest readership.

Then the internet arrived and did much to diminish American newspapers. While Breakfast Serials still exists, far fewer newspapers run it.

As for Keep Your Eye on Amanda, it was also published in book form. But when I sold the book to a trade publisher I did not think reviewers would understand the form. No review copies were sent out. As a result there are almost no reviews for the book.

That said, it was one of most widely read of my books.

[No longer in print, Keep Your Eye on Amanda can be read online, at www.InstantSerials.com.]

 

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