Fresh Eyes: in which I review The Eyes of The Sun from the author's perspective

Sometimes, before you move forward,you have to take a look back. As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm on a writing hiatus for the summer. It's been almost two months now since my last book came out and I can honestly say, this break was a great idea.

But the reasons why will have to be covered in a later post, because today, we're looking back. Specifically, back to my very first series of books. I recently went through and re-read the entire The Eyes of The Sun trilogy. The reasoning is that while I do love everything I've written, I've also grown a bit as both a writer and a reader over the years and I wanted to see how well my early writing stands up to my new tastes.

First impressions: Holy heck do I add in jokes and easter eggs galore! No kidding, nearly every single innocuous sentence in all three books has some little nod to something, mostly just some dumb in joke with my husband or some ridiculous thing I thought was funny (like one scene where Lucy asks "Who's Johnny?" because who doesn't love an El Debarge reference?). Other than that, it's okay! I still like it, but yep, my tastes have changed and I'll freely admit, these books are much longer than I now typically have the patience for.

But you don't want to hear me pat myself on the back for being long-winded. You want to hear me be long-winded about all the things I'd like to nitpick now with fresh eyes. So without further ado, lets jump into book one:

The Eyes of The Sun
First of all, let me say that this is the book with regrets. As my first self-published adventure, and first book that I was confident would be part of a series, there was a lot I didn't know and would do differently. Let's start with the biggest first: third person narrative.

As you know, I began this book way back in 2004 with the intention of shopping around to my favorite sci-fi and fantasy publishers, but life and devastating hurricanes put a damper on things. Initially, every draft I did was in first person with one really weird exception in which I attempted to fictionalize the location. I like first person narration because to me, it's natural and allows for a lot of intrigue and mystery. And yet for some reason, I went with a conservative approach and did third person for book one. In my honest opinion, it worked, but only because I could jump away from Lucy and see what others were up to.

But I think in doing so, I lost some of the audience's empathy for her situation. Lucy is a complex character. Maybe more so than nearly all of my other protags, of which there are many. If I had to do it again, I'd likely rewrite the entire series with 2/3 being Lucy's first person perspective, and the remaining 1/3 narrated with both wide and focused moments, likely getting into Andre's head more often.

The other item that plagues me is the name and this is twofold. First, I don't recommend naming a series the same thing as the first book. Yes, it was a common practice back in the day, but usually because there was no clear indication that there would be a series (see: Star Wars, which was not named A New Hope until the franchise was established). While I had fears that I would fail, I always intended for this book to begin a series. I like The Eyes of The Sun as a series name, so I should have thought of something else for book one. Unfortunately, I still can't come up with anything I like, so it remains.

The other issue with the name is more my issue with grammar snobs, who will tell me the title is formatted incorrectly. It's not. To explain why is a spoiler for the third book,which was not the intention. In book one, Oscar was supposed to reveal the history of the organization known as The Eyes of The Sun, but then, he was also supposed to be (click here for spoilerish things I definitely do not regret changing). The proper titles The Eyes and The Sun are correct, but my attempt to use this as a contextual clue might have been too subtle and a bit ridiculous.

So what did I like? Well, everything else, to be honest. Despite now being slightly dated, I think the story holds up. There are some grammar issues, yes, but that is definitely the result of me over tweaking this one out of sheer nervousness. But the romantic elements still impress me because seriously, I'm not a romance writer. I still don't know where that mojo came from and lemme tell you, I've not been able to recapture it for any of my other works.

So what do I give this overall? With the hindsight of more than five years and nearly 20 published titles, The Eyes of The Sun is definitely not perfect, but I'm still damned proud of it and despite what I said about if I could go back and make changes, I won't. Before the advent of ebooks, we could read an author's early work and see them grow. I want my readers to see the same.

So, onto book two!

Bluebeard's Children
The decision to go unconventional and switch to the first person narration really helps this one. I still consider this to be the best of the series. One of the things I really struggled with when writing this was the amount of atrocities and disturbing elements. I cut a LOT for being too dark. At the time, I remember worrying that it wouldn't be as impactful, but reading back now, itsi still pretty dark and I'm glad I kept the worst of it out. I don't think I would have been able to reread this one had I went with all my original ideas.

Aside from that, I'll again echo my surprise over the romance. I managed to create something with tension and real emotional struggles without taking the focus off the other plot elements. At one point I had this series listed as romance. By all technicalities it is, but truly, there's so much more going on that I felt it was wasted there, even if it did sell more as a romance.

On to book three and my final thoughts.

Mother of Darkness
When I took the series out of romance, I put it in thrillers, but I wasn't entirely confident in that choice either. However, this book solidifies this series as a full on suspense story with paranormal and technothriller aspects. By this point, I can actually see a decided growth in my style. While the story takes a semi-outrageous turn here (mostly due to trying to get in everything I originally intended for book one), it does a good job of wrapping up the series while leaving room for more stories, should I ever decide to write them.

Honestly, I doubt after all this time I'm returning to this series. I've got a different one I've been flirting with reviving, but even that is non-committal at the moment.

So overall, it's funny. I had the most to say about the first book, which makes sense as that one took longer to get from concept to completion than literally everything else I've written since and everything I'll write in the next 4 years combined. But for all my nitpicks, I'm pleased. I set out to write a different kind of vampire story and I did, but I also wrote a love letter of sorts to New Orleans. I wouldn't have it any other way.

This has been a fun adventure and it is definitely going to continue. I'm going to reread the Rise of the Discordant series next, but that will have to wait a bit. I've got a huge pile of books I've been meaning to get to and summer is the perfect time for pleasure reading. I plan to do a post listing some of my favorite indie books and authors next week for Indie Author Day. Stay tuned!

Comments

  1. Nice to read what you were thinking and what you feel about this series. I loved it and still miss Lucy and Andre.

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