September 7, 2002 -- I just finished editing the page proofs for Dragon Blood. This stage is always an interesting one for me. For most of the time I am writing a novel, I am too close to it to see exactly what impact the book will have on a reader. Don't get me wrong, I have a definate goal about what kind of book I want -- but it's like painting a room wearing magnifying lenses for glasses, I can only make educated guesses on what the greater picture will be. Once I do the final edits on the manuscript, I usually have around six months before Ace sends me the page proofs, the final stage of the editing process. These pages are set up just as they will appear in the final book. At this stage I read for the little errors which crop up, missing capitols, "his" used instead of "this", missing spaces. (It doesn't matter how closely I look through them, errors sneak through. The Hob's Bargain, for instance, has a tree with a bow rather than a bough. Oh, well...)
When I read the page proofs, I have already been working on something else for a while so I'm able to look at the book with a fresh eye. There are always surprises at this stage and Dragon Blood was no exception. I hadn't really meant the book to be quite as dark as it was -- though I have to admit I was writing it with the aim of writing a book that neither my worst critics nor my most devoted readers could call light. (Sometime I'm going to write my diatribe on "light fantasy" -- which I think most reviewers really define as any fantasy written by a non-bestselling author in which less than half the characters die. I really wouldn't mind the designation if it weren't used so disparaging.) I had hoped for a dark book, but with my proclivity for humor at odd moments I didn't think I'd manage it. You're the final judge, of course, but I think this one qualifies as dark fantasy. Maybe someone will call it "light dark fantasy".
Darkness isn't all it has going for it, IMHO. I was really amazed by how well the romance in this one worked -- given the trouble I had with it while I was writing it. The scenes were fine, but for most of the time this was in manuscript form the pacing was off.