This is the part where I get to be a super-villain.
Not the kidnap Aunt Petunia type of super-villain, but rather the fly over Manhattan on a zeppelin and hold the entire island hostage type. We're talking your typical masked megalomaniac here; you know the type. Why do I get to become a monolog-spouting, world-conquering masked menace? It's simple, I write contemporary fantasy.
Moo hah ha!
Not seeing it? Make yourself comfortable inside my slow but insidious death trap and let me explain ... because I believe that only someone like you could understand how someone such as myself came to be. Before I kill you, Dear Reader, I shall explain my nefarious plan ...!
I write contemporary fantasy and that means I get to translate any aspect of real life I want into my own little fictional world. I can re-write history any way I please. I can replace science with magic and coincidence with destiny. That last part is important because it means that I can change history in my fantasy world as long as it always makes dramatic sense. Even senseless tragedy or meaningless coincidence can be used as story-telling elements that eventually lead to good pacing and drama.
Like when the innocent little girl loses her family and her home and is forced to lead a life of deprivation, but whose wholesomeness and plucky inner strength lead her to greatness - or in some cases a really terrific boy friend. Or like when the villain shoots his gun right before the fight scene starts, knocking over an oil lamp and starting a fire. During the fight, the fire grows and grows as the combatants ignore it completely. After sufficient thrilling action ensues, the fire causes a beam to fall down, clonk the bad guy on the head but leave the good guy completely unharmed. For bonus points the good guy then saves the bad guy's life by dragging him out. No one will mind that I totally Deus ex Machina'd the end of the fight because the meaningless coincidence was given meaning. After all, the bad guy did start the fire, right?
I won't need to do a lot of research when I change history because it's an alternate world and any number of things could have gone differently. I'm describing a world where magic is commonplace, it should be easy enough to slide in some wild historical inaccuracies. So long as all my changes make good dramatic sense and support my story, no Literature Professor in the world would prosecute me. Or so goes my plan. Only time will tell.
I am pondering such thoughts as I celebrate E-Day. Yes, E-Day! From this day forward, I will mark November 14th as the day my novel became publicly available as an e-book, thus E-Day. This is the day I will completely forget about each and every year, only noticing a week or so after and saying to myself, 'Damn, I missed E-Day again. I really should celebrate next year.' Where ever my writing and publishing career goes from here, this will be the day it officially began.
It's good to have official beginnings. Actual beginnings are usually pretty murky and notoriously hard to pin down. Did Monday and the Murdered Man begin when I decided to publish it in August 2011 or when I sat down to write it in January of 2009? Or when I first thought of the Murdered Man and his unusual request while writing for a live action campaign called Threads of Damocles. How about when I first named a character Zack Monday back in college? This is why I'm happy to have an official date that can be easily written down and subsequently forgotten.
Publishing my own book puts me in some very distinguished company, both historically and today. I'm certain there are lots of webpages that can tell you the true history of publishing, but in the spirit of being a history altering super-villain who can make up his own history as long as it's entertaining, I'm going to say the history of publishing goes like this:
In the Beginning God Self-Published the Universe. Or maybe there was a Big Bang, I wasn't there, I don't know. Either way it certainly wasn't a traditional publication so I'm going to go with God being an independent.
Later on the Renaissance happened and steampunk was invented, and shortly after that enormous steam and electric-powered typewriters that were so big you had to use ten servants to hit all the keys (and the two guys at the back only got to fight over who hits the space bar). And so DaVinci's Legendary Lost 13th Notebook becomes the next noteworthy historical publication.
At this point the gag is getting old so there's a rock-music montage of a bunch of literary images that brings us to the present day. Because I skipped over a lot of the details I can go back later and add stuff without contradicting myself. Again the only rule is that whenever I mold history to my whim it has to be cool.
So I don't get to do this in real life, but I can do it all I want in my books. Zack Monday's Fifth World is a lot like our own on the surface, but I can dip below that surface anytime I want (or at least I can anytime it serves the story) and bring up some bizarre and cool difference between our two worlds. And I can change history to do it. I can say that Gottfried von Leibniz and Isaac Newton were the heads of rival magical societies involved in a shadow war to control all of reality and that's why traditional publishing houses first came into existence in 1719 when Leibniz died. After that moment and for the next 300 years all who published without the help of a traditional publishing house were doomed to failure. Only the invention of the automatic printing press in the year 2,000 could finally break the curse.
That's how I would say the History of Publishing went if I were a time-warping, reality-controlling super-villain.
And also I would have made E-Day fall on 11/11/11, because that would have been so much cooler.