It was a good many years ago—I’m truly not sure when but it may have been as long as twenty-five years ago—I had noticed that horror stories—thrillers—were very popular in the world of children’s’ lit. These books were rather violent. I wondered if I could write such a story, a scary one, but without actual violence. I would allow myself to hint at violence, but it would only be a threat, not an actuality.
In any case I set out to write such a story and in fact did compose one. It was scary, to the degree that it made even me—I recall—uncomfortable.
When it was done I was not sure what I wanted to do with it such a creepy novel. In any case I sent it to my then agent—Dorothy Markinko.
She read it and said “I’m not sure you should publish this. It’s too frightening. But, let’s see what your editor thinks.”
My sole editor in those days was Richard Jackson. He got the manuscript, read it. What he said was, “I don’t think you should publish this. It’s well written but it won’t do your reputation any good.”
I trusted Dick, even as I trusted my agent, and put the book aside.
Perhaps twelve years passed. In that time computer technology shifted. When I had written the book I used those small, hard diskettes. Remember them? Over time I went to a hard-drive computer. All those diskettes had to be stored away. Who knew where?
Sometime after those twelve years Dick Jackson called, and quite out of the blue he said, “Remember that thriller you wrote?” He described that book accurately.
“I do,” I said.
“I’ve been thinking about it. Maybe the time is ripe to publish it.”
My response: “Let me go find it.”
But I could not find the diskette. It had been lost. And diskettes were rather small objects.
From time to time I looked for it, but for all practical purposes it was gone.
A couple of years passed when—cleaning out the garage prior to moving—I came upon a stashed hoard of diskettes. I looked for that missing one and found it.
But it was still in that old format. I located a computer technician who was able to convert old files into my new format. He gave it a name and sent the manuscript to me via e-mail. There was some missed communication because I have no memory of it being sent to me, nor did I know the name he had given the file. Then before I could get back to him the guy moved away and I lost track of him too.
In other words, once again, the manuscript was lost.
Meanwhile, Dick Jackson has passed on, so there was no particular incentive to find it.
A few weeks ago I was prowling (via computer) in my document lists, in search of something that I knew would be there. Quite unexpectedly I came upon a file name that I did not recognize, but it was such that it could only have come from that lost manuscript.
I opened it up and there it was.
Needless to say I was curious to see if it had any merit—at least in my own eyes.
I started to read, but without even having read through it all I began to revise.
It is creepy, and it still makes me uncomfortable. But in the ensuing years it seems curiously very up to date.
So, here I am revising it, but not even sure how it fully unfolds.
I’m telling myself the story.
It is rather odd. But I’m enjoying it.
Maybe—someday—you will too.