Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Santorini Setup: The Back Story—Part Two


 Jump forward almost three decades to 2020, when I self-published A Light on Altered Land. Creating an eBook was relatively easy with Kindle I learned, so I decided to turn my two out-of-print novels from the 1990s into Kindle books.


I didn’t have the computer files for Fertile Betrayal, so each page had to be scanned. Scanning introduced errors, however. For example, the scanner often read “rn” as an m. After several rounds of proofreading, I published Fertile Betrayal pretty much word for word.  


Next, I turned my attention to Sinister Paradise. Sara Yager, a Carefree friend and graphic designer, scanned the pages as she had for Fertile Betrayal. As I was proofreading the book, I got so caught up in the page-turner I forgot to mark any errors. What a strong plot, I thought. If were writing the story now, however, I’d make it much more romantic.


While I was proofreading, Sara was mocking up a new cover. My jaw dropped when I saw it. I knew immediately I had to make Sinister Paradise worthy of her stunning cover!


The first rewrite increased the romance and reduced the violence. The second rewrite upped the female energy even more—US embassy official Richard Marcello became Susan Marcello. (Former U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice of the Clinton administration was my inspiration.) This new, sizzling character infused the story with another layer of mystery and sexual tension.


I had the book where I wanted it…except set in 1990, the story seemed dated. No cell phones. No digital cameras. No Google. Another rewrite to bring it into the 2020s was daunting. And so much had changed. For example, the Athens Plaka had been developed with a new subway station, and some of the action happened in space now occupied by the stupendous Acropolis Museum.


But why not let this story reach its potential? With Nancy’s encouragement, I set to work on a third rewrite. 


The passage of three decades made this chore challenging. Luckily Nancy and I had visited Greece a few years earlier (see picture of Nancy and me on the Acropolis). And I had Google, Google Maps, and Google Street Images. However, during one of our last read-throughs, Nancy opened Google Maps on her notebook to follow the action and said, “Why are all the ferry lines running to Athinios and not Thera?” As it turns out, Thera is now the cruise ship port. Yikes! I had to move crucial scenes set at Thera south to the Athinios ferry docks.


Cell phones are a challenge for any suspense and mystery writer. It’s easy for characters to warn others of approaching danger. More scenes were torn apart and reconstructed to accommodate modern technology.


By the end of all the rewrites, except for the basic plot, the book was about eighty percent different. I renamed it for three reasons: 1) I didn’t want it confused with the original novel, available through second-party vendors on Amazon; 2) I wanted a title that placed the action on the tourist destination of Santorini—a hook for people who have visited that island; and 3) The Santorini Setup is such a better book than Sinister Paradise!


So, that’s the story behind The Santorini Setup.  It’s available as a paperback or eBook at Amazon. Your local bookstore can order the paperback, too. For more 

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