Fifteen years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to do this. The commitment to printing books was too much of a set-in-stone, once-you’ve-gone-down-that-road-you-can’t-look-back scenario. But I come from a world of movie makers, where we pride ourselves in the director’s cut. So I did one for CHUM.
While writing the book, I kept wrestling with the age of Levi Middleworth, our protagonist and would-be hero. He kept going back and forth between 13 years old and 16. Finally I settled on 13, because it was closer to Guster’s age in Evertaster (he’s 11 in book #1). It made sense because my main audience was elementary school kids. But something about that age didn’t fit with the rest of the story. CHUM needed to be seen by high school readers. The subtleties of growing up and the forging of one’s identity would only ring true to a high school teen. CHUM, ultimately, is made for a Young Adult audience.
But it’s too wacky and ridiculous, you say? There are little yellow, round-headed autonomous bots wandering around a ship, and sharks who speak? Don’t worry! There’s a perfectly scientific explanation for all this, just like all the episodes of Doctor Who ever made. No really. It’s all plausible! There are even chemical compounds referenced in the text that would actually make this work. If Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy can get away with it, then so will I (maybe).
So for the e-book, I broke some rules. I changed Levi’s age to 14, and now he’s preparing to enter high school instead of eighth grade. One year of roiling, confusing hormones mixed with coming-of-age, identity questions about who-you-are and what-is-everything-all-about can make a big difference. That single year is a major adolescent to young adult threshold. Besides, it just felt right.
Is this even legal you ask? How dare he! This story was locked in stone. “Levi will always be 13 to me!” You might say. Good. That is good. We still have the paperback edition, standing as it has always been written here. But, I think when you see this new cover, you might say “O, now that was worth it.” Look how great this is!
Scary, dangerous, true to the peril which you will face inside its pages, this cover holds nothing back. (Thanks to Chris Harvey, the artist and my good friend for capturing and posing this shark just so).
As of right now, you can get a copy of the Director’s Cut of Chum, with this new killer shark cover, for the special e-book discount price. See you soon.