Wow. It’s done. With the publication of The Loved and the Lost, the final book of The Verona Trilogy is complete. It took more than ten years, but it’s done. What a journey. What a learning experience. If I really knew how much work it was or how much I had to learn, I don`t know if I would have done it. I could have spent the last decade playing golf or lying on a beach in the Caribbean, but I didn’t. I spent it in the library and in front of my computer. I endured chronic back and neck aches from sitting too long at the computer and . . . who am I fooling? There’s no way in the world I would NOT have done it. I wanted to do it. I needed to do it. I was compelled to do it. Yes, that’s right. Compelled.
I was told, actually told by a woman I was dating, that because I was A.D.D. and dyslectic, because I found it hard to read whole books myself, I had no business believing I could be a writer. Long story short, after I parted company with her, I got to work on my long journey.
The greatest encouragement I got was in a rejection letter I received from a publisher back in the early 1990’s. It stated that I obviously didn’t know how to write, but that was okay. The material I sent him showed that I had some amount of talent, and writing skills could be learned. But, he said, a person who had been schooled in the techniques of writing could not be taught talent.
When I finished the first drafts of what became The Lens and the Looker, I was told by editors who rejected it that I had to choose to write for either young teens, young adults, or adults. My writing was aimed at all of them. And some said that I either had to choose science fiction or historical fiction. I shouldn’t mix them together. You see, they wanted formulaic work that could be pigeonholed inside of a bookstore. All this was hard stuff to hear after spending thousands of hours learning and writing. But I wanted to do what writers like William Golding and Aldous Huxley did . . . write for audiences from young teens to adults, and I thought that mixing science fiction and historical fiction allowed me to talk about important themes while being entertaining. And then I met Lou Aronica of Fiction Studio Books. He had been editor and publisher to most of the great sf writers for years. He saw what I was trying to do and encouraged the mixing of opposites; time travel, historical fiction, artificial intelligences, sword fights, high adventure, dystopian fiction, science fiction, all mixed up in a Romeo and Juliet love story. After meeting Lou, it took another two years before the first book, The Lens and the Looker, came out in February 2011. I was sixty years old. The Bronze and the Brimstone followed close behind in July of the same year. As I had not even started book #3, it took me about fifteen months of writing and throwing away so much, because I did not want to repeat myself or just do another “type” of book that was already out there. And now The Loved and the Lost is out in the world.
Lou Aronica asked me recently what it felt like to be a real writer now. That was an odd question, I thought. But it was a good question. Actually, I don’t feel any different. But when people meet me and find out what I do, they treat me a little differently somehow. It’s like how I see people treat a nephew of mine, who is a professional hockey player, Victor Bartley. Besides looking extremely fit and handsome (hey, he’s 24) they look at him like . . . he’s accomplished something, and I think there’s a parallel. As I had Hansum say to Lady Beatrice in The Bronze and the Brimstone, “. . . how can a person take credit for their talents? One is born with them, like a man who can run fast or who can lift great weights.” And it’s true. You can be happy that you have certain talents, but you can’t be proud of that. But what a person can take credit for is how hard they work consistently to develop whatever their talents are, like I’ve watched my nephew do. And what the heck, I’ll say it. I’m proud of myself too.
Lory Kaufman is the author of The Verona Trilogy, whose final volume, The Loved and the Lost has just been published. You can find out more about him here.