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 readwritethink.org’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!