The Summer Son, Craig’s second novel, came out in early 2011 and has been a hardy book, indeed. It was a Utah Book Award finalist, has been translated into French and German editions, and has been a steady seller for most of its life.
And now, it’s out in a newly edited second edition. The new release, put out by Craig’s imprint, Missouri Breaks Press, includes a hardcover version, in addition to the paperback and Kindle versions.
Below, from the foreword of the new edition, Craig talks about the book and its new life.
It would be giving too much credit to publishing to call it a journey. In my experience, it’s more like a gantlet, an endurance test, the often unpleasant but necessary thing that happens once you’ve written a book and have the audacity to believe that someone not related to you might want to read it.
Some years ago, this book—my second—got published. Some very nice, accomplished people at a big, worldwide company saw some merit in it and invested the time and money to bring it into the marketplace. Press releases were written. Authors I admire were kind enough to say nice things about it. Book review outlets told their readers about it.
In its sixth and seventh months of release, when I might have expected The Summer Son to coast on that initial burst of attention, it instead tanked. In two months, it sold twenty-six copies. Total. All formats, all territories.
I figured my career, barely even begun, was a goner. I was quite certain there would never be another book. That’s what publishing can do to you. It makes you crazy with this notion that you somehow can or should take responsibility for things that are clearly not your province. Writers are healthiest, I think, when they’re doing the work to the best of their ability, interacting with their readers, and living their fuller lives outside the bubble. Publishing, on the other hand, is the bubble.
As it turned out, the summer of 2011 didn’t have the last word on The Summer Son, or on me. The book has been like a journeyman infielder; it’s persisted, done its job, and carved out a place on the team. At this writing, it’s sold upward of 70,000 copies worldwide, a respectable number. And now, in this version you’re holding, it’s coming around again.
Earlier this year, I asked the original publisher of The Summer Son, Lake Union Publishing in Seattle, to revert the English-language rights back to me. It’s a mature book, one that doesn’t really fit Lake Union’s editorial mission anymore, and I think it may yet have another chapter, so to speak.
Of all my books—there are eight now—this is the one I always thought I might do a bit differently if given the chance. Nothing big. The story is strong enough, the structure is sturdy enough, and readers have responded emotionally to it. I didn’t want to mess up anything good. I just wanted to do some scalpel work. Call it a director’s re-cut, if the cinematic metaphor works for you.
So allow me to present The Summer Son, the remake. If you stick around past the ending, there’s an essay about my family, which might give you some insights into how fact informed fiction here, and where it deviates.
I give my workshop students the following equation: memory + experience + imagination = fiction. I’ll leave it to you, dear reader, to wonder about the proportions.