I T WOULD HAVE BEEN easy to put together an «unseen material» section on American Gods, my last novel. Once the book was done, there were about ten thousand words ready to be cut. There was a whole short story that didnt seem to belong in the book, so I wound up sending it out as a very wordy Christmas card. That wasnt going to happen with Coraline. I wrote it very slowly, a word at a time, making, unintentionally, something that left no room for cuts and elisions.
I only removed one bit from the whole thing; many years ago I showed it to a very eminent and brilliant author, who wanted to publish it in her line of books, but who felt that it needed something at the beginning to tell you what sort of a book it was.
This is the story of Coraline, I wrote, who was small for her age, and found herself in darkest danger. Before it was all over Coraline had seen what lay behind mirrors, and had a close call with a bad hand, and had come face to face with her other mother; she had rescued her true parents from a fate worse than death and triumphed against overwhelming odds. This is the story of Coraline, who lost her parents, and found them again, and (more or less) escaped (more or less) unscathed.
But the authors career as a publisher was pretty much over, and when, some years after that, I sat down to write the last two-thirds of the book (in August 1992 Id got up to «Hullo,» said Coraline. «How did you get in?» The cat didnt say anything. Coraline got out of bed and then stopped, without ending the sentence, for six years), the first thing I did was to remove that opening.
I think I just wanted the book to creep up on you slowly.
While we dont have any cut sections in this part of the book (except for that one), we do have a few interesting things in here for you to look at. Dave McKean is a prolific and brilliant illustrator: weve included versions of the illustrations he did for the book that have never seen print. I went and dug out the battered black notebook I wrote Coraline in, by hand, with occasional notes to myself on what was going to happen later in the book, which tended to be right in spirit but wrong in the details. Youll find some reproductions of notebook pages, in my handwriting, which I can actually read, although some people doubt this. The ink color, which ranged from a dried-blood brown to a new-wine purple, is unfortunately not reproduced, although all my crossings-out are.
There are also some questions, with answers that may or may not be very helpful but are at least true (or do I mean that the other way around?).
April 1, 2002