Bear, Otter, & the Kid comes out in just under three weeks, 8/12/11, and there’s moments that I wonder if I’ve gotten in over my head.
When I set out do write this, I was 26 years old, bright eyed and bushy-tailed and I’d gotten !!!An Idea!!! in my head. Fellow authors can relate: it’s when you can almost see the entire outline and plot in your head. You think, Why didn’t I think of that before? and Ooooo, what if THIS happens? I’d attempted to write a novel before at the tender age of 22 and by the time I’d gotten to page six hundred (!!!), I realized that I hated everyone in it. It was so fucking trite and condescending that it made me mad. I thought about just finishing it (it being a look at high school students from a realistic perspective—realistic it wasn’t—everyone did piles and piles of cocaine) by having an asteroid hit this made up town and killing all my characters. There was a certain sense of savage glee I had when I started to do just that, but eventually I stopped and never opened it again. I’d always been told I had an ear for dialogue, that people expected to see my name on the front cover of a novel some day, (that mythical, magical time of Some Day). That original novel was bad. Like really, really bad.
So I got scared (Maybe I am bad at this, I thought. Maybe people were just being nice when they complimented me on my writing, and on the inside they were rolling their eyes.) and didn’t write anything for a while. But my mind could never stop its chatter and every now and then something would raise its head and say “Hey, what about me?” But it would never pan out.
But then the Kid came along and wouldn’t shut up. Like at all. I’d be at work and I’d hear his humor and wonderful bluntness in my head and realize four hours had passed with me doing nothing but staring slack-jawed at my work computer. And then I began to plan. He would be nine years old! And smart as fuck! And he would be a vegetarian! (But not a Vegan; I had to draw the line somewhere). And so I started out again, this time not wanting to write the Great American Novel, but instead to write a story that while not perfect, I think turned our pretty good. And wouldn’t you know, so did someone else. And now it’ll be published and people will get to meet my three boys and their awesome little family.
And that scares the royal crap out of me.
Did I write this book to get universal praise? (of course not, I don’t think that’s possible—but wouldn’t it be nice?) Did I write this book to sell a bajillion copies and get rich and famous and then have it made into a movie that’ll win Academy Awards? (seriously, no fuckin’ way, but that would be cool.)
I wrote this book to prove to myself that I could. The fact that it was accepted for publication was icing on the cake. The people at Dreamspinner have been totally rad about this whole thing, taking a chance with an untested writer who didn’t know what a Beta reader was (oh boy, do I now, though—seriously: you all should have seen how rough my originally submitted manuscript was; it’s embarrassing to think about) or apparently the difference between “then” and “than”. But they saw through all the grossness and it’s been polished into something that still amazes me even now.
How will others feel? I could tell you I don’t care, but that would be a lie. Of course I care. This is my first, my baby, and I’m sending it out into the world. How much will it sell? I could tell you that it doesn’t matter, that as long as one person bought it, that would be fine with me, but that’s bullshit. I want a lot of people to buy it (and not just people I know, but thanks, Mom, for saying you’ll buy it in paperback AND eBook, even though you don’t even know what an eBook is).
What about now?
The lovely D. W. Marchwell (author of Good To Know, Falling and its upcoming sequel When Memory Fails) humbled me greatly when he told me that he’d gotten ahold of the manuscript from Dreamspinner and had written a review on it that’ll be posted here and on his website within a few days. Let’s just say he was extraordinarily kind in his review and it eased me slightly to see that what I was trying to say in my novel hadn’t gotten lost in translation.
As of yesterday, the equally lovely SJD Peterson (author of Lorcan’s Desire) will be doing my first interview on her blog, set to be posted on 8/11, the day before BOATK is released (you like how I shortened that? It kind of reminds me of NKOTB, and all the awesomeness that comes with that. And you want to know how I know I’m gay? I just posted the abbreviated form of New Kids On The Block and called it “awesome.”) She sent me the list of questions to answer and I was excited… and then I froze. Oh my God, what if I come across sounding like a whining douche bag? What if people hate the interview and that makes them not want to buy the book? So of course I didn’t sleep last night. And now I’m tired and cranky and the butterflies in my stomach have turned to Pterodactyls. But it is,of course, having only to do with my own issues, none of Ms. Peterson’s thoughtful questions.
So I gotta just do it, right? I’m answering the questions as truthfully as I can, realizing that be changing an answer to have it sound like what someone would want hear is just a bad idea. I’m not one for sugar coating. So for better or worse, Bear, Otter, & the Kid will be out in a few weeks and it’ll either fly or crash and burn. People will either like it or hate it. But, in the end, I realize I wrote it for me.
And I think that’s okay.