Promised in Paperback, Plus Extras
Next week, the paperback of Promised (Birthmarked 3) comes out, completing the paperback set of the Birthmarked series. I’m curious to line up the three books for the first time and see how they look with matching covers, and I wonder if that will create a sense of completion or closure. So far, I have not felt like Gaia’s world is completely closed, partly because I keep hearing from readers about it, and partly because stray ideas still hit me, like I wondered the other morning what would happen in a novel about the building of the wall.
For the paperback edition of Promised, (see a giveaway here), I worked with my Square Fish editor Lauren Burniac to come up with bonus materials for the back matter. Lauren asked at one point if I wanted to include the opening chapter of my next novel, but since the novel is not ready and has no firm title yet, I took one panicking gasp and squelched that.
Instead, we included a friendly interview I did with my chum Genn Albin, author of the Crewel series, and the short story “Ruled,” which was released as Birthmarked 2.5 on Tor.com shortly before Promised came out in hard cover last year. Lauren also invited me to write something new, like discussion questions, a Q&A, or another story, but none of those seemed right.
Instead, I came up with “The Unwritten Stories,” five separate sketches for what could possibly happen to Gaia and other favorite characters after Promised ends. I had a delicate line to tread. I didn’t want anything to undermine the true ending of Promised, which I’d labored so hard to create. A full story, even if it were from an alternate point of view, would have risked reading as an epilogue. On the other hand, summaries that were too skimpy or too vague would certainly be a let down and not fun to write. In the end, I tried to capture the glimpses I had of what might be around the corner, and I added a caveat so that readers who prefer their own imagined directions don’t follow mine.
“The Unwritten Stories” are not a big deal. I don’t want to mislead anyone that they’re important. They’re a bonus, nothing more. Still, if you’re one of the readers who wrote to me pleading for more, please know that I heard you, and I used your requests to inspire my sketches. So, thanks to you, and thanks to my paperback editor, Lauren Burniac!