From The New York Times:
When Karen Hall published her debut novel, “Dark Debts,” 20 years ago, it seemed like the start of a blockbuster literary career. Ms. Hall, a veteran TV writer who had worked on hits like “M*A*S*H” and “Hill Street Blues,” had the commercial storytelling chops. She spent five years working on the novel, a pulpy theological thriller about a Roman Catholic priest who becomes mixed up with demonic forces.
“Dark Debts” was an instant success when Random House published it in 1996, with a 150,000-copy print run. Paramount optioned the film rights. Fans hounded her for a sequel, and Ms. Hall’s publisher and agent urged her to write another novel to capitalize on the momentum. “I can only hope that Ms. Hall will read these reviews, and will provide her readers with another work of fiction,” a reader pleaded in a 2001 Amazon review.
She never wrote another book. Instead, Ms. Hall spent the next two decades obsessing about the flaws of “Dark Debts.”
“I never stopped thinking about it,” said Ms. Hall, 59. “I never said it aloud to anybody, but I always knew I would never write another book until I got this one right.”
Now, the story is finally getting a second life. On Tuesday, Simon & Schuster released a new edition of “Dark Debts,” and Ms. Hall has made changes — dramatic and subtle — throughout the book. She rewrote the explosive ending, which previously finished on what she felt was an emotionally false note. She added a character and dropped a significant character from the earlier version. She toned down some of the violence and gore, including a climactic plot twist in which a possessed man goes on a killing spree, and scrubbed out the profanity, at the request of her 91-year-old mother.
“I had barely been able to read it in the last 20 years, because everything I didn’t like about it made me cringe,” Ms. Hall said. “Boy, I was in love with the sound of my own voice.”
Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Tom for the tip.