Jean is a wonderful friend of mine and we’ve talked about this book, The Cauldron, off and on for months. Now, Silence in the Library has put together a multi-book kickstarter that is 2/3rds funded for three books (including one by Timothy Zahn) that includes The Cauldron. Here, Jean talks about how The Cauldron, co-written with Gene DeWeese, came to be.
The Cauldron (once called Mnemorphosis)
There’s a spaceship inside, aliens, an elephant, and the Civil War . . . oh, and a love story, too. How wonderful is that?
Not in a million light years would I have thought to combine those elements into a science fiction novel.
In fact, I wouldn’t have thought to attempt this book. Well . . . I did write it, you can see my name on the cover illustration. I mostly write fantasy, and I dabble in urban fantasy and modern-day adventure yarns. I love to read science fiction, but I haven’t written a lot of it.
So how did I end up writing what I consider an amazing book?
Gene DeWeese called me one day some years back.
Gene was one of my writer-buddies and at the time (‘cause I used to live in Kenosha, WI) a fellow Cheesehead. I’d met him many years ago when we both wrote books for TSR (he, Ravenloft, me, Dragonlance). I had read his books even years before that, and I’d invited him to a lot of the anthologies I edited. Gene wrote just about anything . . . contemporary, fantasy, horror, and science fiction. And he wrote all of it well. He was a New York Times Bestselling author, and he was known for his Star Trek novels.
Gene had a novel fragment in his computer that had been vexing him. Its working title was called Mnemorphosis, but it didn’t sit well with him, as he thought readers wouldn’t pick it up. He wanted to turn that fragment into a full novel, but he didn’t seem up to finishing it on his own. He asked if I’d like to tackle the project.
Dear God yes!
Although I usually work alone, I’d collaborated with Andre Norton and John Helfers, and had great fun doing so.
Working with Gene DeWeese was a dream. He had such an incredible imagination . . . hence the elephant and the Civil War. And he had such an elegant, beautiful, gentle soul. I cherished every day I spent working on The Cauldron, and every phone conversation and e-mail I shared with him. I wanted to get the book “just right,” just the way he’d envisioned it. And I managed to weave my own elements and side-trips in it too. Part of it is set in Wisconsin (familiar to both of us) and Indiana (where I’d lived for a time when I was a news reporter and he’d lived many years ago). So it was a perfect coauthor pairing.
The endeavor wasn’t without its difficulties. Gene was suffering with a form of dementia (and was well aware of it; he’d lament to me about things he couldn’t recall and memories that had been scattered to the winds). The disease claimed him before he could see The Cauldron in print. I’d like to think that his scattered thoughts helped make The Cauldron so wonderful. When you read it, you’ll see how so many disparate elements combine to tell one story.
My agent pronounced the book “weirdly good,” and endeavored to market it. After one of the New York publishers sat on it for more than eighteen months, deciding whether or not to take it on, I told my agent I’d get it into print myself.
It’s a Kickstarter project that starts in August. The Cauldron is perfect for a Kickstarter. It’s ready to be printed; it’s not one of those Kickstarters where if enough contributions are raised, the author will write it. Silence in the Library is the publisher. They’re awesome folks, and they love the book…maybe love it as much as I do.
It does, after all, have an elephant in it.
Jean Rabe is the author of thirty fantasy, adventure, and mystery novels, a heap of short stories, and has edited a few dozen anthologies. She shares her office with three dogs and a cantankerous parrot. Visit her at www.jeanrabe.com.