New York Times  Bestselling Author

Sometimes Change is Good

2002 Cypress Point hardcoverIf you had a chance to change something you created a decade ago, would you take it?  I have that opportunity as some of my older books are being reissued, and since I’ve been asked if the reissued books are identical to the originals, I thought I’d talk about that here. The truth is, it varies from book to book.

I didn’t change The Courage Tree at all, so if you find an old copy somewhere, the story should be identical to the reissue.  In Breaking the Silence, though, I made a small but significant change that I believe heightens the suspense and makes the outcome more suprising. A reader’s experience will be different if she reads the original vs the reissue. I did no updating of the story itself, though, because the CIA Mind Control Experiments drive everything that happens. Since those experiments really took place, I needed to stick to specific dates in the book.  

Summer’s Child, which was just released, has minimal changes. I did update the story a bit so that the styles of clothing, cars, etc, aren’t jarring to the reader. 

Right now, I’m rereading Cypress Point to see what I want to change and I’m playing with this one a bit more than the others. First, I have to say I adore this book as much as I did when I wrote it. It’s an intriguing, twisty, and throught-provoking story, if I do say myself. So what am I changing? Maybe I shouldn’t admit this, but what the heck: as I read Cypress Point, I find that something relatively minor about one of the characters is really bugging me and I plan to “fix” that person.  It seems so strange to tamper with a character who’s existed in one form for so long, but it also feels great to be able to make the book better. When I wrote Cypress Point, I was perfectly happy with the character, so what’s changed? Me. And my writing. This character needs some tweaking to bring him or her (not giving the identity away!) up to my 2010 standards. I believe it makes the character more believable and more sympathetic. There’s something else I’m altering, and that’s a love scene. Too graphic for my current taste. So if you love a steamier scene, you might want to stick with the original version!

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know my publisher wants to change the title of Cypress Point. I had strong reservations about this and I know some of my readers still do. I hope you can get past it because I finally have. My editor came up with a title I adore: The Shadow Wife. It fits the story incredibly well, and  I’ll do everything in my power to be sure my readers know that it was previously published under a different title. 

And finally, the original Cypress Point cover has always been one of my least favorites and I can’t wait to see what my publisher comes up with for the reissue.

So how about you? Do you wish you had a do-over on work you did ten years ago?

10 Comments

  1. Jodi on April 11, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    Very interesting post! I actually read both Cypress Point and Breaking The Silence a few weeks ago. I’m now super super curious about what changes you made. I absolutely adored them both in the previous states though.

    And I also finished The Escape Artist last night. It was also fantastic, surprising and satisfying. But whoa…the names you chose were eerily relevant to my own life. My mom’s name is Bonni, her sister is Ellen, her mom is Nancy and her best friend is Peggy. And I also have two cousins named Cody and Tyler. Thankfully, none of our lives are as traumatic as the book’s character’s!

  2. Margo on April 12, 2010 at 7:49 am

    Diane, I feel that I’ve grown as an artist over the last 10 years and am fortunate enough to go back to a few original paintings and ‘add’ things which enhance the paintings…these are works of art that hang in my own home so it’s not difficult. It’s impossible to change art that I’ve sold over the years and I only hope that people love them today as much as they did when they bought them. I loved CYPRESS POINT so much when I first read it years ago so I can’t imagine what change could possibly make it better…of course I will buy the reissue and find out when I reread it.

  3. Jane Judkins on April 12, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    I have read all your books, and will now go find these to read. I will see if I can find the changes, I still have the first copies of these books. Thank and keep writing!

  4. Diane Chamberlain on April 12, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Jodi, isn’t that weird how that happens sometimes with names? Spooky.
    Margo, I imagine it’s very similar with painting as it is with writing, as your style changes over time.
    Jane, thanks for being a faithful reader! The slightly altered Cypress Point won’t be available until the end of the year, but the others are out and about.

  5. brenda on April 12, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I don’t like the title changes-read Delinsky’s blog to see that other readers don’t either-they often blame the writer…they must put on the book that it is reissue…however, it seems you don’t get to choose, and we should just be happy that your wonderful books are being reissued…however, again can one imagine GONE WITH THE WIND being reissued…as far as I am concerned, your books are perfect already. Recently I reread some Beverly Cleary books-the one Sister of the Bride, etc…I read those in school…my daughter read them…and we bought them for granddaughters-same with Trixie Belden, Little House, Nancy Drew, etc…I love the historical aspects for the kids…

  6. brenda on April 12, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I may have the author incorrect with Sister of the Bride and others by that author…but love those little books.

  7. Diane Chamberlain on April 12, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    Brenda, you’re right that the author has little, if any, control over the titles of the reissues (and often the titles of new books as well!). Some battles are no-wins for the author and this is one of them. And you’re right it’s the author who will hear about it from the readers, not the publishers. I get at least one complaint a day about The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes having three titles (US, UK and Australia) because some people have ordered all three of them. I don’t blame them for being upset, and all I can do is try to educate as to which books are new and apologize like crazy! I ALWAYS have an up-to-date printable book list with any titles I know about on the books page of my website. I just need to keep telling people to check it.

  8. Ann on April 13, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Diane, you are doing everything you can to help your readers understand that some of your books have multiple titles. I think the aggravation comes in when there is no way to tell if a book is a reissue with a different title from the original. Thanks for your help.

  9. Diane Chamberlain on April 13, 2010 at 9:47 am

    You can always tell if you look at the copyright page, but when you order online, of course, that’s difficult.

  10. brenda on April 13, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I know you are doing everything. One thing I always do when I order a book from Amazon or Doubleday, I check the publishing date…even in bookstores…I do the same just to make sure. It is up to the consumer, not the author…I wish you did not receive complaints, but that is going to happen in any aspect of life-the books are still great.

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