Friday, August 11, 2017

Reflections on proofing the Sin and Nicki Box Set

I published Sin Walks Into The Desert, Regret Things and To Guns as a Kindle box set this weekend. Mostly, this is just a marketing thing. (My Owl and Raccoon box set easily outsells the individual books in that series.) But it's also because I want more readers to make it through to To Guns, which is one of my favorite books.

I did the due diligence of proofing the whole series, and it was a frustrating and illuminating experience. Sin Walks Into The Desert is undeniably a niche book. I get that. Sin is sulky and obsessed with guns and the language of the book follows his lead. Still, with all the awards the damn thing has won, I feel like it should be a best-seller. Some of the scenes - like the conversation between Sin and Sandy in the diner after Sin pulls a gun at school - are just fucking great.

Regret Things was a much more frustrating read. Some of my more creative friends say it's the best thing I've ever written. And there are places they're right. The dialogue between Nicki and Ryan before she asks him to help with her heist? Fucking brilliant. The spiraling trip through bohemian New York? Hell, yeah. But the pages read like a mashup of scenes, not a novel. And too much time is spent with Nicki's illicit lover, Grant. He was the inspiration for the book, and therefore the whole series. But now I look back and worry that he sucks all the oxygen out of Nicki's story. And his nonstop leering feels eye-rollingly adolescent. I wish I'd culled his airtime back.

So I'm not surprised To Guns has been a flop. To enjoy it, you really need to have read both of the prior books. But I can't imagine there are many people out there who'd tolerate both a raw neo-Western and a casserole of bohemian excess. That's a huge regret of mine. To Guns' descriptions of the Colorado mountains, its shootouts, and its scene between Nicki, Sin and their underage bartender are all so, so good.

I hope this box set will finally get To Guns the audience it deserves.

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