'Dark Charismatic' was the book I submitted to John Jarrold some two years ago which persuaded him to become my agent. Unfortunately it never found a publisher and as I'm taking a break from 'The Demi-Monde' I thought this was an ideal time to revisit the book.
DC is my take on the Jekyll and Hyde story, and elements of it serve as a prequel to the Demi-Monde. I've always had a lot of affection for the book but now re-editing it after a couple of years it's easy to understand why it didn't land me a publishing contract.
First off, it's too long (190,000 words) and too slow. One of my aims is to remedy these failings by taking out extraneous scenes and speeding up the action. 150,000 words tops!
Second, the book doesn't know what it is. It's not horror (though there're horrific interludes); it's not fantasy (though there is a fantastic element about the story); it's not alternative history (though I do play fast and loose with some historical events); it's not social commentary (though there are chunks of the story devoted to just that); and it's not sexy (though there is a LOT of sex in it ... a lot more than I remember writing!). Therefore I've decided that I'll remodel it as a Gothic Horror Story.
Third, the central character, Margaret Jekyll, isn't well defined enough. I've got a LOT of work to do on Margaret to bring her into focus and to make her journey (hate that word) from Victorian wife to rebel and to make that journey credible.
Fourth, the bloody thing is sloppily written. I keep switching POVs mid-scene etc. etc. Need to tighten up. I've written 500,000 words since I penned DC and done at least 50 edits so I've doubled my writing experience and it shows.
Fifth and final, I've got to tighten up my Victorian idioms which means MORE research!
BUT and this is important, I've a feeling that inside DC there's a good book struggling to get out. It'll take me a month to make that happen.