Two Stories From a Single Vision: L.E. Modesitt on The One-Eyed Man

The One-Eyed Man is a novel that was one I never intended to write. Some two years ago, my editor, the esteemed David Hartwell, approached me and several other authors and asked us to write a short story based on a painting by John Jude Palencar. I started writing, and I kept writing, and by the time I got to 15,000 words or so, and was just beginning to get into the story, I realized two things: first, that I was nowhere close to finishing the story, and, that, in fact, it wasn’t a story; and second, that I wasn’t going to finish the Imager Portfolio book I was also working on by the time I’d promised it to David. So… I put aside the story that had become at least the beginning of a novella, if not a novel, and wrote a much shorter story entitled “New World Blues,” which was published by in February of 2012 as part of the “Palencar Project,” consisting of five stories, all based on the painting, by different writers.

But I couldn’t get the story I’d started originally out of my mind, and I told David that I was going to take a short break from the Imager Portfolio and write the novel that became The One-Eyed Man. He graciously agreed to the project, just hoping, I suspect, that it wouldn’t take too long. It didn’t, and Tor bought the book.

The more I thought about it, however, the more I wanted Tor to include “New World Blues” as an addition to The One-Eyed Man, both because both stories came from the same source, and both are very different, even though written by the same person. One features a male protagonist, the other a female. One is written in first person past tense, the other in third person present tense. One takes place in the far future, the other in the near future… and there are a few other differences. Thankfully, Tom Doherty and David Hartwell agreed with me and allowed it to happen, if not without a few glitches along the way.

It all goes to show, in a rather dramatic way, that an author can get more than one inspiration from the same vision.

L.E. Modesitt, Jr. is the New York Times bestselling author of the Saga of Recluce. He lives in Cedar City, Utah.


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