Sometimes a book comes along and you simply need to reach out to the author and tell them what their story meant to you. I did that today.
I’ve been doing a lot of research on transgender issues for a writing project I’m working on. I’ve read dozens of books – memoirs, novels, picture books, non-fiction. All of them have helped me better understand the transgender experience.
And then I read a review of Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonsky. I was surprised to find a novel for young people on this subject that I hadn’t yet stumbled across. It wasn’t in my library (they need to get a copy!) so I had to request an interlink loan. (The book was shipped to my library from another city.)
I gobbled up the story in one sitting. As I told the author in an email, the best word to describe this story is ‘tender’. And brave, just like the protagonist, who, baby step after baby step blossoms into the person she was meant to be.
In a way, this is the book I was hoping to write, but I couldn’t find my way, so I changed directions. I’m so glad Polonsky pulled it off, and so beautifully.
I’m writing a new novel. This one is for an adult audience, not my usual genre which is young adult. This is new territory for me. I spent months doing the research, and now I’m well into the story. I’ll probably spend another year completing it before I’ll shop it around to publishers. If it’s any good and with a little luck it will get published and then I’ll start another one. Such is the life of a novelist.
But there’s always that chance that I won’t find a publisher for this one. It’s an extremely competitive field. I might have missed the boat with the topic which may be passé by the time the story is complete. Am I wasting a couple years of my life working on something that will simply grow mouldy in a file cabinet drawer in my basement? Every day I wonder if my time would be better spent working in a soup kitchen, bringing meals to the elderly, volunteering in a hospital – all things that would help make my community a better place.
This is the dilemma faced by most writers. Hugely successful ones sign contracts before a project is written, but for most of us, writing is an act of faith. We enjoy the process, but we also hope that our words will find an audience to entertain, inform, or simply be thought-provoking. But there are days, like this one, when the words aren’t flowing and the passage of time stares me in the face and I wonder … is this the best use of the time?
I’ve signed a book contract for book #11! The working title is Lost Boy and I believe it is due out in 2018. Thank you Orca Book Publishers!
Lost Boy is a follow-up to my earlier book, Sister Wife, which dealt with a young girl living in a polygamist community. She was forced to marry a much older man who already had multiple wives.
Lost Boy tells the story of a boy who also grew up in that community and was forced to leave after it was revealed that he was having a secret and forbidden relationship with a girl (the main character in Sister Wife.) Boys like him are pressured to leave these communitites to reduce competition with the elder men for wives. They are dubbed the ‘Lost Boys’. Raised to distrust the outside world, when they finally run away or get pushed out they must learn to live in an unfamiliar society. They have little education and few skills. They believe they are beyond spiritual redemption.
Unfortunately, communities like my fictional one are still flourishing throughout North America. Here in BC stories of the polygamists in Bountiful are in the news today. In writing this book I set out to explore what life would be like for one ‘lost boy’.
This is the title of an unpublished book I’ve written. It’s a short, tongue-in-cheek story of the perils of on-line dating. (I write from experience.) This is also my first stab at writing fiction for an adult audience.
I actually had fun writing Love.com. It wasn’t work at all, the story practically wrote itself and I smiled through the whole process. Perhaps I felt it was my chance to gently poke fun at some of the experiences I had when I briefly ventured down that perilous road.
I haven’t begun the submission process with this one yet, (I’m unfamiliar with the publishers of this genre) but I have shared it with a number of friends. Here is the latest review I received from a writer friend whose feedback I always trust.
“I loved, loved, loved this book. It is fast-paced and funny, with great characters, and a compelling story. I was charmed by it! I think you must send it out into the world …you might check some publishers of romance novels. There is such an authenticity to this manuscript. I thought it was sensational!” (Deborah Hodge)
Maybe there is an audience for this little story after all. Fingers crossed….
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