Tuesday, June 2, 2015

And One Month In, Some New Thoughts on FINDING PARIS

Mostly what happens after a book arrives, is that there's a flurry of activity and then you move on (or back, as the case may be) to whatever come next. In my case, I'm finishing up a third (and hopefully final) draft of IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS, which arrives next May from Soho Press. Publishing deadlines march on even if you're promoting something else and so for a few weeks it's like this wonderful but crazy madness as you try to balance telling people about the book that just arrived-- in this case, FINDING PARIS--while still keeping your head in the upcoming project and also doing whatever else it is you do in your life. So I've been writing, revising, teaching, prepping lectures, scheduling events and travel and book clubs and… well you get the picture.

But a month in, it's time to take stock and so I'm going to do that here this morning, or at least attempt to. My non-publishing friends will often ask, "So how's the book going?" and I'm never exactly sure what that means except that I think it means sales and then I have to tell them that while I sort of keep track, really, that's the publisher's area not mine and I don't have access to all the numbers and remember I don't sell them out of the back of my car. And then we look at each other awkwardly and talk about something else, like Hillary Clinton's run for the White House or why kale is so popular when everyone knows what it tastes like.

What I do pay attention to is this: I am OVERJOYED at how many wonderful people are seeing in FINDING PARIS the story I hoped they would see. You are telling me that you cried in the places I hoped you would cry and laughed in the places I hoped you would laugh and saw the down and dirty side of Vegas I hoped you would see. You ached for the secrets that characters have such trouble revealing and you understood that Paris HAS to send Leo away, has to force her to confront things that Leo does not want to confront. You are telling me that you see that this may look like a surface happy road trip/caper story but it's anything but that and you are telling me that you are HAPPY that the book surprised you, that the story is twister than you expected and to that I say THANK YOU! And YES!

It's different book than I've written before; it's sparer and leaner and it's really much more showing than telling and so I had to trust that my readers would look at what is being said and described and what is being not said and put the pieces together. Although (and I'm no longer worried about the spoiler aspect at this point, although if you are, please close your eyes or something) the reveal of sexual violence comes later in the novel, you, my lovely readers, are telling me that this just made you go back to the beginning and then you said, "OH! oh! oh!" And you saw! And this makes me so grateful. Because as I've said a few times since the book came out, I strongly believe that although we think that we tell the world everything with our endless posting on social media, the truth to me is that we don't. That the dark painful stuff is still hard or impossible to say and our images are important and we don't like to show need or weakness or ask for help because look at all those happy people out there smiling on their Instagram feeds. I should be that, right? How can I tell an awful secret that will change the way you look at me? So it's slow reveal that unfolds page after page but can't arrive until Leo is ready for it to, until she has no choice but to tell.

And another thing that was a surprise and a happy one? So many WONDERFUL librarians who are saying how much they love FINDING PARIS and comparing it to one of my favorite titles, PAPER TOWNS by John Green. This makes me delirious with joy! It honestly never occurred to me but yes, Leo and Paris have some journey in common with with Q and Margo -- not the plot but the essence and  so I am honored.

Anyway. It's Tuesday. I have a lot of work to do and a talk to give on setting.

More soon, including a review of DEVOTED, which is out today from Roaring Brook and is written by my dear friend Jennifer Mathieu who is such a talented writer and amazingly wonderful human and funnier than hell.

No comments: