About Saber-Toothed Cats and a Good Editor
July 25, 2016
This is Smilodon fatalis—a saber-toothed cat that lived in Florida. Here in Florida our deep springs are essential for our future, but they also hold our past. In them we find everything from mastodon feet to giant sloths to human skulls to abandoned Chevys. And also the bones of this Saber-toothed cat.
The publisher of my novel, just before she became my publisher, sat with me and told me she thought I had one of the best endings for a novel that she’d ever read. You know I went all sweaty and pleased about hearing that. Then she said the ending that she loved—it was ten pages before my ending. It took me about two seconds to know she was right. I remembered that my original, place-holding title for The River’s Memory, all those years ago, had been “Breath of the World.” Which was the phrase she wanted my novel to end with. Really.
But, she assured me, that didn’t mean those last ten pages were bad. I’m not a good judge of that, because I’m so very fond of the character in them. She’s a saber-toothed cat. As humans proliferate, as the climate changes, as large, ground-shaking prey like mammoths disappear, her species have dwindled until she is the last of her kind in Florida. I’ve posted the story of her final day on my website as a sort of outtake. Enjoy.