I've been spending the past week doing the absolute final this is it I won't do any more rewrites on the dead & the gone. Although I am of the Maynard G. Krebs school when it comes to work, I actually kind of liked doing the rewrites, and I'm sad to say goodbye (at least until the copyedited version of the manuscript shows up) to Alex and the other characters I've been so involved with for many months now.
My editor suggested that since people in Pennsylvania had an immediate response to the asteroid striking the moon, perhaps the people of New York City ought to as well. Reluctantly, I had to agree. So this rewrite I put those reactions in, and let me tell you, that was a lot trickier than you might think.
For those of you who have never driven in Manhattan, some avenues go uptown and some downtown and some have two way traffic and then there's Broadway which goes downtown and uptown and sideways to boot.
My own personal reality is I drive on West End Ave. when I go into the city, and West End goes two ways, which is very thoughtful of it. But I needed to know which way the north of Central Park avenues go (south is easy- 6th goes uptown and 5th goes downtown and the rest pretty much follow suit), and it was suprisingly difficult to find that out. But I couldn't have the terror stricken New Yorkers drive downtown, because that's where the water is, just the kind of mistake those nasty reviewers pick up on, along with characters' failing to buy rice.
Finally Wikipedia (what a great joint) gave me the answer. Amsterdam goes up and Columbus down or vice versa. I put it on a post-it, but now that the rewrites are finished, I've thrown the post-it out.
I realized last night, during a bout of post rewrites insomnia, that of all the characters I've written, Alex is the one least like me. He's a boy, for starters. He's school smart, ambitious, hard working, responsible to a fault, unthinkingly sexist (which drove my edtior crazy), religious, and he really likes rules. Put him in the Regency romance novel, The Insufferable Lord Summerville, and he'd lower his defenses only when he falls in love with the beautiful and quick witted Miss Hackensack.
In spite of the fact I have no friends like Alex and would probably loathe him if I ever met him, I love him as a character. Put a character like that in the worst of all possible situations, and he's scared and vulnerable and desperate. I miss him already.
I'm delighted to report I'm not alone in my Alex love. Marion Lloyd Books, the British publisher of Life As We Knew It will also be publishing the dead & the gone. And Listening Library, which did the audio version of LAWKI, will be doing the same for the dead & the gone (although I assume they won't be able to use Emily Bauer, who did such a great job with LAWKI, as the reader).
In celebration of knowing there's going to be an audio version of the dead & the gone, I'm going to give a still in shrinkwrap audio book of LAWKI to the first three people who e-mail me to ask for one. Keep it or give it to the worthy organization of your choice. Use that neat little link to the left, and just write to say you want one. I'll reply and ask for your name and mailing address and then you'll reply with the info and then the next time I go to the post office, towards the end of the week thunderstorms permitting, I'll mail it off. I've already put them on my kitchen counter, so the rest is up to you.
I'm off now to write an outline for The Insufferable Lord Summerville. Recycling is good for the planet, you know.