The road to publication is often frustrating but never dull. Along the way, the writer encounters potholes, steep climbs and U-turns. Many give up, never to experience the thrilling sprint to the finish line. Rick Taubold persevered and is now the author of three books with several more in the works. Here’s his story. Welcome to Book Blather, Rick.
Thanks for having me, Marilee.
My journey into writerdom is a lot like that of other authors. I've always liked to write, and I loved to read sci-fi when I was younger. Of course, I've branched out a lot since then. In high school, I wrote some not very good stuff, one of which was a one sci-fi short story in Spanish for my third-year Spanish class. All I'll say is that the Spanish was good.
In college, classes took up a lot of my time, so my writing interests fell by the wayside. I did write one six-page sci-fi story for an English class in 1967 that wasn't too bad. It wasn't until I'd finished grad school that the writing itch came back. I'd gotten into playing Dungeons and Dragons, which requires imagination to create and act out the characters that you role-play. I'd created some interesting ones and at one point lamented that I'd spent so much time creating them only to have them be tossed aside and replaced with other characters in another adventure. These were what's known in the writing biz as "interesting characters." That's when I decided to write a novel about them. Easier said than done. I had several characters in search of a story, and novels don't usually start out that way unless one of those characters is a larger-than-life version of yourself. That can be a recipe for a writing disaster unless you've led a very interesting life--which I hadn't.
I don't recall now the origin of the novel's concept, only that I played around with it for a couple of years. This was around the time that I became seriously involved with the woman I'm now married to. Once I had what I thought was a workable plot idea, I realized I needed a few more characters to complete the cast. Remember that sci-fi story I wrote back in college? An expanded version of it and its main character found its way into the novel. What's interesting is that none of the characters at that point was the MAIN character. That's when I dug deep inside my soul and came up with that sort-of-larger-than-life version of myself. Not really. Scott Madison was a totally fictional character who happened to share one or two of my minor life experiences.
I began the novel in earnest in the summer of 1991, a year after I got married, and completed the first draft a couple of years later. That's when I realized it needed a lot of work still. I got involved in some local writing workshops taught by an award-winning sci-fi author and set about revising my masterpiece. Finally, after numerous rejections from agents, in 2003 I found a small publisher for it. More Than Magick came out in September of 2004 and went out of print three years later.
Meanwhile, I had begun another project, Vampires, Inc., the first novel in the Mortal Vampires series with co-author Chris Hosey, and was looking for a place to sell it. My publisher at first accepted it, then several month later changed their mind and canceled the contract. Undaunted, I determined to find another publisher. Meanwhile I got back the rights on Magick, sold that to Double Dragon Publishing, then found out they were also looking fore vampire novels. I sold Vampires, Inc. to them as well. They released it in June 2009 (three months before the other publisher would have released it), and Magick that September five years to the month it was first published. Double Dragon also published Vampires Anonymous in July 2010. For the time being the third novel in the vampires series is on hold because I have something really exciting in the works.
In late March of 2009, a writer friend contacted me about another writer she knew who looking for someone to novelize his YA fantasy screenplay. Several writers had turned him down due to "not having the time." Although I had a full plate, I agreed to look at it. The rest--as they say--is history. I fell in love with Chris Keaton's wonderful script and knew that I had to do this. My wife had been after me to try YA fantasy, but one needs an idea first. And here was a brilliant idea being dropped in my lap.
Three years and several drafts later, The Mosaic is nearly done. It's been more of a challenge than I expected, and the learning process has been an interesting one. In the beginning, I figured that I had all I needed. The screenplay was a complete story populated with great characters. However, it soon became evident that a screenplay is little more than an outline. During the process of turning one into a movie, you have input from the director, actors, set designers, and numerous other artists to craft it into a full-blown film. I soon learned that, as a novelist, I had to take on all these roles and one can't simply translate a script into a novel, which is what I did in the first draft.
When you're writing a novel from your own ideas, many of the details develop in your head as you go along. This was not my story, but I had to get to know it just as intimately as if it had been my idea originally. A screenplay is a very lean medium. Regardless of how much is in the scriptwriter's head, most of that vision stays there and only the distilled essence ends up on paper. With novelists, a lot more of the vision ends up on paper.
In short, I had to figure out how to turn 100+ pages of screenplay into a 400+ pages of novel while still staying true to Chris' vision. We've had to make some changes--quite a few in fact. Chris has given me a lot of leeway to "do whatever it takes" and trusted me not to muck it up (and he lets me know if I do). Actually, my wife has been my worst and best critic. She wants this project to succeed. And she is really picky (in a good way).
At the beginning of this collaboration, Chris and I were both considering traditional publishing routes. I even had a couple of some agents in mind to submit it to. But as we all know, 2009 was a turning point in publishing. Self-publishing suddenly became a reputable way to get your work out there, so that's the route we're taking, for now at least. And we're approaching it very seriously, from meticulous editing of the manuscript to cover design to concerted promotional efforts. Our goal is to achieve success so that Chris can sell the screenplay, which is why this project came about.
It's been quite a journey, and Chris has shown a lot of confidence in me. I'm trying my best not to disappoint either of us. I see this first venture into self-publishing as turning point in what I hope will be the start of an interesting future for my writing career.
You can check on updates and news about The Mosaic at: www.themosaicnovel.com
My personal website (to be revamped very soon) is: www.ricktaubold.com
I co-host a blog on writing with author Scott Gamboe: www.writewell.silverpen.org