So I start going through the email and find one waiting for me that has no topic, no salutation, and the very first sentence is as follows:
First off i would like Diane Duane to respond not some hired help.
Then a critique of some timeline issues in the YW books ensues, in a rather brusque and cranky tone. The mail then ends like this:
Respond or I will send an email a week for as long as it takes to get your attention.
And that’s it: signature, but no “thanks for your time” or anything of the kind. (eyeroll) Sorry, [name omitted]. The Lady Mevrian and I are of one mind in this regard: “patience only and courtesy shall get good of me”, especially when somebody’s work day looks like mine.* So [name omitted] gets one of the form letters which my long-suffering part-time assistant composed….
I resisted that kind of thing for as long as I could. But it got to a point — what with the artless and delightful emails and letters from ten-year-olds looking for help with their school projects, the twelve-year-olds who want me to write their essays on Deep Wizardry for them (or, in some cases, instruct me to tell them where they can find the Cliff Notes online, and hurry up about it, because they need it for today, for something at school), the older fanficcers who want me to read their YW fic and [approve it / critique it / include it in the next YW novel], and many other similar kinds of query — that I was spending whole mornings dealing with the e-correspondence alone, and we had to pull together some kind of FAQ or canned response for messages like this. (Paper letters always get answered. But the sheer volume of the emails is just too great these days — routinely ten or twenty such messages each day, on the average.)
As regards this particular guy’s query: yes indeed, there are timeline issues in the YW series, especially as regards the ages of the characters. For some of them, I accept responsibility: occasionally a writer can get confused, especially while transiting a series from one publisher to another. Other hiccups (especially in earlier volumes) are errors in copyediting where things got “fixed” for me and I didn’t catch them in time to fix them back. (One notable example of this kind of thing: the book where Kit’s last name is spelled all the way through with a terminal “s” instead of a “z”.)
There’s at least one online attempt to reconcile / make sense of the timeline (and document the parts that already make sense) — the YW timeline and miscellany page run by one of our YW discussion forum moderators, the enthusiastic and thoughtful Peter Murray. But the “reconciliation” parts are a stopgap.
Pretty soon now I’m going to be talking to the present publisher about the next three books, and further plans for the series at large; and one thing very much on my mind is tweaking all the age references in the first eight books so that they make sense, and dealing with some other time-related issues to iron out various other difficulties. Obviously this is going to mean resetting the type on some, if not all, of the early volumes: which runs into money. We’ll see what the publisher has to say.
Meanwhile, time to get another cup of tea and dig out that form letter…
*And if someone would tell me what a scan of The Worm Ourobouros is doing in the Sacred Texts website, I’d be grateful. Not that I mind, particularly. (Apropos of nothing: the Sacred Texts pages link to a fairly recent map of the world of The Worm, which is useful if [like me] you sometimes have trouble getting to grips with the geography there.)