My debut novel, Finders Keepers, is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips my buddy and I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against a quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA.
It’s in the spirit of The Good Place, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
Talk about not having a plan! LOL
Yet about 18 months later I was writing my alternate-Universe sci-fi adventure Crossline… and WHAMO! I had that classic A-ha! moment. I suddenly had the blueprint for a Finders Keepers sequel. That novel became Genius de Milo, this time taking our backpacking heroes from the first book across America and Mexico, while caught in a battle for the Earth’s soul.
With the narrative picking up three years after Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo was going fairly well and then... another WHAMO! Like a rush, I could suddenly see the outcome of every character, completing each individual arc, in addition to the overarching story that ties the entire series together.
Talk about empowering! Whoa!
With the scope laid out, I was able to go back to the beginning of Genius de Milo (book 2) and write with more authority and confidence, delivering a novel that was exhilarating and satisfying unto itself but also planting the groundwork for Astropalooza (book 3).
I have to say, I was thrilled with the sequels. Yet it was bittersweet, coming to the end of a long journey.
And then a funny thing happened.
About a year ago I had that A-Ha! moment once more. I admitted to myself that while I was damn proud of the original Finders Keepers, I saw passages that needed to be cut, sections that could easily be combined, and a few character traits I wanted to approach with a bit more nuance.
I also wanted Finders Keepers to more closely match the tone, pacing, length, and style of Genius de Milo and Astropalooza, as Finders Keepers was a bit rough and raunchy in places, failing to serve the overall narrative — and some of the characters — as well as I had intended.
The new and updated version — Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition — is tighter, cleaner (think ‘PG-13’ instead of ‘R’), and nearly 15,000 words shorter than the original, without sacrificing any story or character development.
A recent Amazon review put it this way: To draw an analogy between the two editions, Hitchcock once said about his two versions of THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH: “Let's say the first version is the work of a talented amateur and the second was made by a professional.” Same can be said for Colchamiro’s redux of FINDERS KEEPERS.
If you had asked me way back, when I was lugging around my rucksack, with all my gear, zig-zagging across Europe in the days when the Internet didn’t even exist, if I’d still be telling stories about it now, in a trilogy of books, I would have blown an aneurysm from laughing so hard.
And so is my trilogy: Finders Keepers: The Definitive Edition, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza.
I hope you have as much fun reading them as I had writing them. They changed my life forever. Maybe, even if it’s just with a smile, they’ll change yours too.
Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space opera, Crossline, the zany SF/F backpacking comedy series Finders Keepers, Genius de Milo, and Astropalooza, and is editor of the SF anthology Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.
Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself.
Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, Altered States of the Union, Camelot 13, TV Gods 2, They Keep Killing Glenn, and Brave New Girls. Russ is repped by The Zack Company.
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