A reader just asked me if I would ever update the technology in my first novel CONTROL FREAK if I were to release it as an eBook. I’ve given this a lot of thought. I thought about it back when the second edition was released in 2002. (Fuck me, was that really almost 10 years ago?) I went around and around with myself about it but ultimately decided not to.
It’s not because it would be too much work. It’s because the story takes place in the early 90s and it wouldn’t feel true to that setting to go back in and insert 2011 technology. I guess I see it as an artifact of that specific time period, just like a pulp novel from the 50s is an artifact of its own decade. I can’t picture Mike Hammer using a smartphone, and I feel the same way about the characters in FREAK.
The much bigger temptation would be to rewrite myself. Because, let’s face it, that book just isn’t as good as my more recent work. After all, it was my first time. We all kinda suck the first time. But I learned, and I’d like to think that I keep learning every day. The problem is, knowing what I know now, I know I’d want to use what I’ve learned to polish it up a little. Or a lot. But see, that way lies damnation. Because really, when do you stop? I’d like to think that I’m gonna keep on improving, keep getting sharper, getting better the older I get. So should I go back and “fix” MONEY SHOT in 10 years? Or 20?
No way. Can’t do it. So if I ever do decide to put CONTROL FREAK out as an eBook, (and that’s still a BIG if) I think it would be have to be as is. You know how you always have that one family member or old flame who keeps posting ugly-ass Junior Prom photos of you on Facebook? Well old books are kinda like old photos. Snapshots of who you used to be. But as much as you might regret your freewheeling teenage style choices, you wouldn’t Photoshop an old photo to fix that terrible crooked mohawk you gave yourself right before graduation. (Yeah, I did, and no I won’t post a photo.) That’s how I feel about rewriting old stories. Of course, it still gives me a little twinge of discomfort to think of re-releasing something that isn’t up to my current standard of quality, just like it would make me uncomfortable to post an embarrassing, unflattering teenage photo. Which is why I still feel very conflicted about it.
What do you think? Writers, are you ever temped to go back later and fix or update old work? Ever give in? Readers, how do you feel about that kind of thing? Does it feel like getting a whole new book, or does it feel dishonest to the original?
Would you want to see CONTROL FREAK released as an eBook? Warts and all?