James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS: A Major Revision is Done

Almost ten years to the day that I finished the all-important first draft of my first novel, I’ve completed what I anticipate as the last major rewrite of MoHG. In the wake of its close call with a publishing contract, this was an intense project I forced myself to undertake (and had scheduled anyway for May-June 2015, after I finished DIXIANA), but living this dark story so closely yet another time has really drained me.

Ask any novelist, however, and you’ll find that this exhaustion is just what we go through. Years and drafts and years and drafts—always a draft sitting on your desk that could be made better. It hangs over your head. Part of the ride.

The novel’s much better now, of course. Fits in so very neatly as a prequel to DIXIANA. I employed vast swaths of rewriting and fine-tuning on the thematic and line level, added additional Edgewater County details that have come to light, etc etc. Good times, if you’re into refining big unruly novels.

The process was especially cool after knowing all the characters so much better—I took some through three other novels before returning to again revise their origin story. The more you spend time with them, the more you really get to know these fake ‘people’ that a writer describes in fiction. It’s hard to imagine if you haven’t worked with characters, but you end up crying and hurting and laughing right beside them. If you’re a writer worth his salt, anyway.

So, this revision was necessary, and I’m glad I did it, but I tell ya, no more big edits of this one. At last this novel has become its truest version: more subtle and less depraved in its detail, more finely wrought than overwrought in its emotional traverse, best of all more redemptive for its damaged protagonist, if still cautiously so. Fare thee well, sweet MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS. Back into the trunk with ye moldering manuscript leaves…

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About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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