Friday, October 11, 2013

Return of the Private

In a recent post I wrote about how there was an element of surprise reading something I’d written as recently as six weeks before. I have a little more experience with that, now. I’m re-issuing Keeping Private Idaho after 17 years. I needed to go back through the book to correct something from the first edition, so I read it for the first time since it was published.
I’m glad to say that it still holds up pretty well, though now it’s a period piece, rather than a contemporary novel. There were several things I had completely forgotten about the book in that time, so it really was a lot like a first read.
The correction, by the way, was in the name of the dog featured in the book. The dog was named after the Newfoundland that accompanied Lewis and Clark on their epic Corps of Discovery. For most of the previous 190 years, historians had referenced the dog as Scannon, so that’s what I called his namesake. Just a couple of months after Keeping Private Idaho was published, researchers discovered a creek in Montana that Lewis, who owned the dog, had labeled Seaman creek. Many features were named after Corps of Discovery members, so historians began looking carefully at the journals again. They decided that “Scannon” was actually Seaman. Newfoundlands are water dogs, famous for serving on ships, so Seaman actually made more sense. So, I was done in by imprecise penmanship.
The change led to a little alteration in dialogue. Additionally, I tightened up some scenes, in preparation for the re-release.
The biggest change, though, is in the cover. Here’s the new cover, by Boise artist Ward Hooper. The printed and kindle versions of the book will likely be out in November. 

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