Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blog Tour: Guest Post: The Riverman (The Riverman Trilogy #1) by Aaron Starmer

I am very happy to join the tour for Aaron Starmer's latest novel, The Riverman. He visits Book Jems today with a great guest post! Look below for all the blogs that are participating in this tour!

The Riverman (The Riverman Trilogy #1)
by Aaron Starmer
The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: March 18, 2014
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
320 Pages

"To sell a book, you need a description on the back. So here's mine: My name is Fiona Loomis. I was born on August 11, 1977. I am recording this message on the morning of October 13, 1989. Today I am thirteen years old. Not a day older. Not a day younger."

Fiona Loomis is Alice, back from Wonderland. She is Lucy, returned from Narnia. She is Coraline, home from the Other World. She is the girl we read about in storybooks, but here's the difference: She is real.

Twelve-year-old Alistair Cleary is her neighbor in a town where everyone knows each other. One afternoon, Fiona shows up at Alistair's doorstep with a strange proposition. She wants him to write her biography. What begins as an odd vanity project gradually turns into a frightening glimpse into a clearly troubled mind. For Fiona tells Alistair a secret. In her basement there's a gateway and it leads to the magical world of Aquavania, the place where stories are born. In Aquavania, there's a creature called the Riverman and he's stealing the souls of children. Fiona's soul could be next.

Alistair has a choice. He can believe her, or he can believe something else...something even more terrifying.

Follow The Riverman Blog Tour!
Tuesday, March 18: Alice Marvels
Wednesday, March 19: Book Jems
Thursday, March 20: Maria’s Melange
Friday, March 21: Books and Whimsy
Saturday, March 22: Great Imaginations
Sunday, March 23: Nerdy Book Club & Sharp Read
Monday, March 24: Word Spelunking
Tuesday, March 25: Live to Read
Wednesday, March 26: Read, Write, Reflect

A lot of authors are dripping with regret. They weep over the pages they’ve cut from their manuscripts, over those darlings they’ve murdered during revisions. I don’t share such guilt. Mainly because, when it comes to writing, I’m the perpetual bachelor. I never give myself the chance to get attached to anything.
That’s right. Gather up a posse of writing instructors to hunt me down, because I do the unforgivable. I edit as I write. I cut as I go. Constantly. Ruthlessly. It’s something I’ve done for years and I know it doesn’t work for most writers, but it’s what works best for me.
When I was younger, I’d clack away at the keys without pause, spitting stories out as fast as I could, only to find it impossible to cut things when it was time to revise. Even if there were obvious problems (and, believe me, there were always obvious problems), I felt as if my stories would fall apart the moment I started chopping. I was probably right too. In my haste to get to the end, I had built these things on wobbly stilts.
Before long, I realized this strategy was getting me nowhere, so I decided to slow down. I became meticulous. I’d write a few thousand words, then edit. Write a few hundred words, edit. Write a sentence over and over a dozen times. Go back to the beginning before I was even close to the end and make sure the structure was sound before moving on, and by the time I had reached the end, I didn’t really have a first draft, because I had already cut and reworked a ton of that problematic stuff.
So in the case of my latest novel, The Riverman, I actually had to add a lot in the revision phase. I tend to underwrite these days. I want to let readers puzzle through things. My editor, Joy Peskin  (who is wise, wise, wise) never hesitates to call me out when it’s not working. The manuscript was peppered with notes like “show us more,” “unpack this idea,” and “are you nuts, man, no one will understand this vague hogwash!”
Therefore, a number of scenes were created entirely in the revision stage. The two most significant include one where Alistair, the main character, sneaks into the back of a pickup truck and makes some frightening discoveries, and another where a group of kids prepares to confront the Riverman. They were additions, but they are as essential to the story as any other scene.
Now, this is not to say there weren’t any cuts. I sent a whole bunch of adverbs and words like “just” and “very” to pasture. Redundant sentences and paragraphs were given the ax. And I did trim a few pages from the end at Joy’s suggestion (again, wise). That’s a choice I certainly don’t regret, because it gives the end more immediacy. There’s one passage I threw on the scrap pile for pacing reasons that I do kind of miss. I might even use it in a future book. It was a page-long description of what happens when middle school boys have slumber parties. Think sleeping bags on the floor, dares, food eaten in creative ways, scandalous movies that only come on late at night, those sorts of things.

I’m sure if I reread The Riverman now from cover-to-cover there would be countless things I’d want to add back in, but once a book is done, I don’t subject myself to such tortures. I pity any author who does.

Big thanks to Mary from Macmillan for asking me to join the tour, and to Aaron for the fantastic post. And look for my review of this wonderful novel later this week!

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