Monday, March 5, 2012

BOY21 Pub Day! Pictures! And the story of BOY21!

Out of my three published novels, BOY21 was the hardest to write--by far.

I tried desperately to write about a high school basketball player without writing a 'basketball book' while I was an MFA student at Goddard College. Even though I produced more than 1,000 draft pages, I just couldn't get it right. My Goddard thesis was whittled down to a manu just shy of 200 pages. And I think there was no mention of basketball in the finished product, and therefore it was nothing at all like BOY21. When I graduated I shelved the idea, but it percolated somewhere in my subconscious for a few years.

I tried to write about a basketball player again after I finished SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR, but the story just didn't want to cooperate. I had 100 pages about a boy living with his legless and incredibly racist grandfather. After four or five months of effort, I just couldn't get the thing to turn into a story.

One day, I decided to make the grandfather character likeable, so I threw out my 100 pages and began again fresh. For whatever reason, this worked. Other characters stepped out of my mind and the story took off.

After we sold the manu, the revision process began with my publisher, Little Brown Books for Young Readers. My editor, Alvina Ling, and several others at LB contributed to a very helpful editorial letter that led me to believe I needed to rewrite the entire last third of the book, and so I did....which was difficult because we were on deadline. It was an extremely stressful time for me, but when Alicia read the finished manu, she said, "This is definitely your best book yet."

I'm not sure what the lesson is, or if there is any to be had at all. Each book takes on an identity of its own. Each of our creations tests us in different ways.

I do know that I am very happy to be putting BOY21 into the world today. I worked very hard on this book--for several years--and hope that my efforts provide you with a thought-provoking reading experience. The early feedback has been exciting. I have high hopes for Finley, Russ, and Erin.

BOY21 may be new to you, but the book has already traveled around the globe. Here's my latest novel in Thailand with super former-student (and up-and-coming writer to keep your eye on) Paul King. (Respect the finger pointing!)

Russ, Finley, and Erin also accompanied Jennifer Buehler, Ph.D., (of’s Text Messages) on a trip to Cyprus, and while there visited Aphrodite's Hilltop Temple.

The BOY21 crew then headed to the Amazon jungles of Peru, where large snakes can read and ex-pats like my good friend, Scott Humfeld, root for the Cubs. (I believe the snake's name is Fluffy.)

I hope you will secure your copy of BOY21 ASAP and follow along. There are links to the right for online shopping, if that is your preferred method of purchasing books. You should be able to walk into any bookstore and purchase a copy of BOY21. Please support your locals. (And please ask them to order if they don't have BOY21 in stock.)

And if you enjoy BOY21 I'd really appreciate your sharing your enthusiasm in the form of glowingly positive on-line reviews, which help a lot. Many people read Amazon, B&N, and Goodreads reviews before purchasing books. And every copy of BOY21 sold is a vote for my career. I really appreciate all the support everyone has shown in the past.

If you are in the Philly/SJ area please join us tonight, Monday, March 5th, 7pm, in the Collingswood High School auditorium for the BOY21 launch. Q will read/speak/answer/sign and B&N will be there selling copies of all three Q novels. It promises to be a fantastic night, and there will even be refreshments! (This is Q's only free and open event in the Philadelphia area this time around.) Be there!


Scott Humfeld said...

Congratulations, Matt. I completely agree with Alicia that BOY21 is your best work yet. Filled with memorable characters in a story both heartbreaking and uplifting. This is one of those novels that you just can't put down until the end and then you sit there and say, "Wow".

Myfanwy Collins said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!! So happy for you. You deserve every success and then some. xo

PK said...

Thai students loved BOY21 and so did I! Congrats, Q, on another published novel and happy publication day. The amount of hard work and effort you put into your writing is an inspiration - I hope I can have that kind of diligence some day. Thailand is great, but life is rather free and easy it time to move home?

(Many thanks for the blog love as well. Such high hopes from the Q! But can I live up to the hype? Hah!)

Alicia said...

An exciting day! Boy21 is a phenomenal book. Congratulations to my favorite writer and man.

Jennifer Buehler said...

I am so happy to be part of your pub day. And I am grateful to hear a bit of the backstory of your experience writing this book. I just recommended it yesterday as a story that speaks in part to father-son relationships, and I reread the ending. It was a privilege to carry your story and spirit to Cyprus!

Reenie said...

Not only an amazing welcome for Boy21 tonight at a packed Collingswood HS auditorium but also an out pouring of great admiration for it's hometown author who captivated all. A great night with even greater things to come. Welcome Finley, Russell and Erin....the world is gonna love ya...and to Matt 'the Writer'...the world already does!

Q said...

Thanks, all! BOY21 is off to a great start!