I’ve started rereading my first novel, Private Relations, as I get it ready to publish as an ebook. It will join the five other out-of-print books I’ve turned into ebooks–Secret Lives, Reflection, The Escape Artist, Brass Ring and Fire and Rain. (Check them out here). I asked my readers if I should reissue my two earliest books even though they’re very different from my later novels and the answer was a resounding YES!, so I’m going to do it. But I have to say, rereading this book is a strange experience.
All my older stories lack cell phones, laptops and other technologies we take for granted, but that’s not all. If you’re a female, I’m curious to know if your OB/GYN is a man or woman? I haven’t been to a male gynecologist in about thirty years…and that’s when I started writing Private Relations. Back then, I worked as a social worker in a maternity unit and we had exactly two female docs and about a zillion guys. So when my character, Kit, doesn’t bat an eye about going to a male OB/GYN, it seems odd to me now, but in the context of the era, it made sense. Kit is thirty-one, by the way, and she’s thinking about how incredibly hard it is to change careers at that advanced age! She’s a baby, for Pete’s sake.
Then there’s the writing itself. I actually think it’s pretty good, but it’s quite different from the way I write now, with regard to both ‘voice’ and the way I tell the story. For example, I start more slowly as I set up the situation in Private Relations and introduce you to the characters, and I use more description than in my current novels. I also tell a chonological tale instead of zipping from present to past and back again, the way I frequently do now.
Finally, this is a romance, although not a “typical romance” in any way, because I’d never read a romance novel before I wrote it and had no idea that was what I was writing. I believe that’s what made it unique enough to win the RITA award for best contemporary novel the year it was released.
So in spite of male gynecologists, corded phones and juicy love scenes, I am fond of these characters and feel for them as they make their way through the story. I hope you’ll feel that way about them too. If you’re an ebook reader, watch for Private Relations to join the rest of my novels in a month or so.