In my first blog post this month, I talked about writing the first part of Pandora’s Genes in a kind of white-hot frenzy of creation. It took me about three weeks to get those first 100 or so pages down, and then another several months before I finished the first draft, which was around 400 pages.
I typed it all on my Selectric typewriter, on green paper, which I superstitiously used for all my fiction drafts. Whenever I came to a passage that was too slow or otherwise wasn’t moving, I switched to pen and white paper, then transferred what I had written to the typewriter.
I continued to revise and retype, and a couple of years after I’d started I finally had something that I was happy enough with to take to my agent, who had so far only represented my nonfiction books.
My agent suggested numerous changes, so I spent another several months of revising, retyping, and so on. At last she was happy with it and began sending it out.
After a year’s worth of rejections, we finally got a nibble from Warner books, which was looking for new writers for a new science fiction imprint, Questar. The only catch was that the editor wanted a complete rewrite before she would commit to buying it. So I spent the summer revising the whole thing again, on spec, and finally turned it in, approximately 4 ½ years from when I started writing.
The good news was, she bought it! The bad news… well, she wanted more changes. I’ll tell you about the biggest change tomorrow, but I spent another few months revising again, and then making more changes for the copy editor, until finally the book was done! We had a cover! It was scheduled to come out in six months!
Except that the head buyer for Waldenbooks, a major player in the sf market in those days, hated the cover. He told our marketing department that he would not order the book unless we got a whole new cover. This would delay the book another six months, but that was not his problem.
It was mine.
This one was by the great sf artist Don Mattingly, and this time Waldenbooks approved. Approximately six years from the morning I wrote down the dream that became Pandora’s Genes, my book was, finally, published!
Tomorrow: The ending of Pandora’s Genes