Good morning and happy Tuesday!
First, I’m continuing my Wattpad experiment, and the first 6 chapters are going to be going up over the next few weeks.
Chapter 1 is here!
Reads, votes & comments are all greatly appreciated. I update on Friday lunchtime.
Secondly, the new paperback version and ebook of Pantomime and Shadowplay are slightly different to the original 2013 version published by Strange Chemistry Books. Since it was changing publishers, I wanted to give it another going over and amend a few things. I wrote the bulk of Pantomime when I was 21-22, and now at 28 I’ve grown a lot as a writer (written 6 books since then!) and also learned more about representation. Over the years I had a few notes from readers on things I didn’t quite get right. They weren’t angry letters by any means, just pointing things out so I’d know for next time, and I appreciated that. Most of the time, writers release books into the world and that’s it–they’re done. You can’t change it. I did get the chance to smooth over a few things, and I’m grateful for that, since they were niggling at me. So, find out below the cut what’s different. I wanted to lay them out here so those who say, read the old version of Pantomime & the new version of Shadowplay, are aware of what changed.
Remember, here be spoilers.
- Early on in the book, Micah Grey goes to R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic and looks around at everything in wide-eyed wonder. He uses the word ‘exotic’ a lot, both in terms of animals & people. One, it was repetitive. Two, it can be Othering to refer to people as exotic, especially if they’re POC. I didn’t realise that. I removed all references to people as exotic, plus lessened the overall repetition.
- I used the word ‘gypsy’ to refer to the woman introducing the gawkers to the freak show tent. Roma people consider it a slur. Off it went.
- Biggest change: I made it clearer that Micah is intersex AND magical, not magical BECAUSE they’re intersex, and also made it clear that Chimaera are human, not an alternate species. Never intended him to be, but some read it that way as it wasn’t super clear and they found it Othering. I’d done some work to combat that in the first edition of Shadowplay, but I went back and made that clearer in Pantomime. I also subtly shifted Micah’s feelings about their gender identity, etc, so they’re not as conflicted–instead, more annoyed a the world trying to shove them into binary boxes. He’s still really coming to terms with everything in this first book–acceptance continues in books 2 & 3.
- Bil made a few slut-shaming type comments and they annoyed me in retrospect. Obviously, he’s not a particularly nice character and is a misogynist, but I took most of them out anyway. He’s awful in enough ways.
- Another big change: I brought Frit, Bil’s wife, back from the dead. Having her as a domestic violence victim was an unthinking decision in the original edition. With Aenea also dying at the end and Mara being thrown out of the circus, it made a lot of women victims in this book, which again wasn’t my intention but hey, hindsight. The new version has it that Drystan helped Frit escape. She’s now living somewhere happily, which I like much better. Her death didn’t affect events later in the series. Basically, she was originally fridged, and I un-fridged her because I could. The power! I’m sorry–Aenea still dies.
- Little line edit things. I used ‘got’ or ‘gotten’ a few times, which I think sounds too American for the pseudo-Victorian register I used. I had some repetitions or sentences that in hindsight I thought were a little too wordy or clunky.
- Not as many changes, as I’d already learned a lot about writing between book 1 and book 2.
- I had Drystan and Micah disguise themselves with a Glamour to look slightly Temri (aka non-white). I was trying to comment on how common it was during the Victorian magic era for people to do things like this, so the audience could feel like they’d travelled abroad during the performance. I did run it by some sensitivity readers, and most readers have seemed fine with it, but a few people understandably side-eyed it. In retrospect, it didn’t add much and was unnecessary. I changed it so Drystan and Micah change their features to look like different Elladans, and pretend they grew up abroad in Southern Temne as the sons of merchants. Cyan, who is Temnian, still instructs them on her culture so they don’t make a hash of it. It was a case of trying to work in research for research’s sake. This is carried over into Masquerade.
- More smoothing out things at the sentence level.
None of this required much shifting or edits at all. A sentence here, a sentence there, and things that were bothering me are now bothering me less. It’s still earlier work and there’s other things I wish I could change, but that’s the case with all writing. “Art is never finished, only abandoned,” as Leonardo da Vinci said. On the whole, I’m still pleased and proud of this series. Now, it’s time to let it go.