I remember a conversation I had with one of the co-heads of the HWA's UK chapter, Paul Kane, a little while ago. I'm always grateful when we have these convos because this is a man with 'X' number of years experience in the game. Plus, it's an absolute pleasure to talk shop with him, like so many others in the game. Anyhow. What we get into, among other things, is the nature of reprints. I admit, I've had something of a purist view on this. The idea being that when you release a story into the wild, that should be enough: the audience snap it up, enjoy it, and then they're free to pick it up for a re-read when they see fit. Or let that shit gather dust, or sell it on or give it away. Or even bin it. (FYI: I can remember seeing a copy of Dr. Who book "The Horror Of Fang Rock" in the bin some years ago - after I bought it for my nephew. Of course, I rescued the book because I love it). Anyhow.
An idea I warm to now isn't so much of a 'purist' view where a story is only published once. These are the reprints. And as such, they get a repeat viewing. Of course, whether they stand up to a repeat viewing is something else - but that's hardly a new idea. I'm thinking of films for example, where they get released at the cinema and then, further down the line, they're released on DVD or Blu-Ray (which is a far cry from watching films released on VHS when I was small and Afro'd). The advantage is that, at least with films on disc, the viewing experience may be enhanced. Outside of all the bonus features you might get with a film on disc (director's commentary, deleted scenes, etc), the film may be remastered. Sharper picture, better colour, clearer sound. All that good stuff. With books, you won't necessarily get such bonus features - although, for my part, I love to add bonus material to my work. Author notes, illustrations, whatever - just so a reader feels they get more bang for their buck. That might not always happen: but bear all of this in mind, since I have a reprint on the horizon. Back to the matter.
Even without bonus material, a reprint means a work can be presented to an audience who, for whatever reason, missed it the first time. Said reprint may have scenes added/altered/deleted, to make for a tighter read. Or at least have some change(s) to keep more in line with the author's vision. Maybe some new artwork. Stories originally printed as part of a collection may be reprinted as a standalone work. Or vice versa. A nod to Paul Kane & Marie O'Regan for the Mammoth Book Of Body Horror collection. Without it, I wouldn't have gotten to read the likes of The Fly (which ultimately begat the Jeff Goldblum/Geena Davis outing), Who Goes There (which ultimately begat John Carpenter's "The Thing"), or Re-Animator, et al. All strong works. And again making the case for the benefit of a reprint. Mid-June and I catch wind of one of Kendall Reviews guest posts via Twitter, from Lee Markham. What's notable here isn't that this is a name I'd not heard in a few years. No. What's notable is the work that this man has done: specifically a novel known as The Knife. My closest friends will tell you that at least when it comes to film, I'm not the most forgiving critic. Lee Markham's 'The Knife' is a novel I discovered some years back where, as an HWA member, you can opt in to read works that other authors are offering free of charge for Bram Stoker award consideration. I'd decided to give the novel a try, and didn't regret it. That harsh and gritty work is easily one of the better novels I'd read in recent years - and I went as far as to call it a game-changer. So I'd spread the word. Voted for it in the Stokers. It's that good. With the wonder of social media, a little convo kicks off between Kendall Reviews and myself, and then Lee Markham joins in. He gives thanks for the props, and also tells how The Knife has been reprinted as The Truants, complete with an extra chapter.
The upshot of all of this is that I finally get to meet Lee in London yesterday who tells of life, reprints, optioned work and such. Despite already having gifted me with an electronic copy of The Truants, he hits me off with a signed print copy as well. And I'm reading this, headed home on London Underground, thinking, "this is still some good shit." All 'fuck you, blud' - read the book, and you'll see what I mean. Lee: much appreciated, boss. Here's hoping you can make a convention or two. The joy of social media. Also around this time is when I catch 'Noige' (as in 'noigeloverlord') on Facebook. Another blast from the past, since this is a name I know from the days of Brian Keene's FUKU - Fans Uv Keene United - on the BK message forum. This is also the same place I 'met' Jim McLeod, long before The Ginger Nuts Of Horror grew legs and became the monolith of horror media reviews it is today. That good man still has a love of the genre and supports it, as so many do.
So be mindful of what and who you happen across. Because not everything or everyone stays buried - and that's a good thing.