Anatomy of a Novel
I first pitched a Captain America novel on October 31, 2016. The first notion was considered too political and controversial, as was the tweaked second pitch. I finally tried something entirely different and that met with approval from Marvel. A revised outline was submitted for review in January and in February, an expanded outline was created. By February 21, I had a chapter by chapter outline set up and I went back and forth with Marvel and my editor at Joe Books until late March when we had everything hammered out.
In April, I began seriously sketching out the characters, sifting through tons of Marvel research for reporters, foreign dignitaries, and additional details on the villains.
The final draft was ready for my beta readers in May and I received comments from the kind Paul Simpson, John Trumbull, and Jim Beard. I polished away and sent it off in early June.
On July 10, my new editor, Joe’s associate publisher Deanna McFadden returned my manuscript with her notes. I worked my through them and returned the manuscript for the final time on July 26. Marvel’s licensing team notes didn’t arrive until August 21, the first day I was at my new school.
Marvel and I went round and round on several points and then a second Marvel reader had addition thoughts and comments. I was done September 20, wondering all the while how this would make a November 7 on sale date.
I received galleys on October 3 with even more Marvel notes so we negotiated those and the galleys were returned on October 4 and finally approved. I am amazed that the on sale date slipped a mere three weeks, to today.
One of our late debates was how “evergreen” a novel this should be. I tried to make it as contemporary as possible, setting most of this in the months prior to the events of Secret Empire which was being published as I wrote. By the time we were in active edits, it had just ended and thankfully, we didn’t tie it to that period since the Black Widow is seemingly dead. One question that we skirted was exactly who was in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. at the moment Cap revealed his Hydra connection.
The whole notion of an “evergreen” is difficult considering Marvel’s 60+ year history is constantly being revised and modified. I’ve lost count of how many times their universe has been made and remade, tweaking events along the way. So, is Sharon Carter now 10 years older than Cap thanks to the Rick Remender run? I avoided it entirely since I thought it was dumb. I see Dan Slott has invented a Skymakrian language and altered the status quo there, but my book is before all of that.
There is no way to make it an “evergreen” so I sanded off some rough edges and staked this as a pre-Secret Empire tale and if the next time we see Ana Kravinoff she is no longer a Nuhuman, well, she was once.
Is it the best Captain America novel? Probably note. Is it good? You tell me.
Next week, I will walk you through my annotations so you see where material and characters came from.