First, have I mentioned that summer is magical? That summer is hands-down my favorite season, favorite time, and as I grow older, I want more than ever to eek out every second of sunshine and warmth and bike-riding, star-gazing and bonfires and dog-swimming, hours of no grading or lesson-planning, time to read what I want and keep the house clean, but most of all, time to breathe and write. And ride my bike. And write. And ride my bike. And write.
This summer seems particularly sweet to me. I am working on a new book (sort of on two, maybe even three, if you count the manuscript I’ve written but am not touching), and prepping for a few presentations (one at the U of M about South Africa which is particularly delightful to work on), and I’m also setting up book events for the fall, when Slider’s Son will be released into the world.
I’m utterly thrilled for Grant O’Grady to make his way into the world, and into the hearts of readers. This is the book that my late agent George Nicholson said he loved.
This is so not my first book. That means many things. One is that all the thrilling excitement I felt for my first two novels is tempered with pragmatism. I’m not going to hit the NY Times bestseller list. I won’t be nominated for for the Newbery or the National Book Award, and probably not even a Minnesota Book Award. Maybe some list will read this (that’s prereq to winning anything, and lots of times the buck stops there, in my opinion, getting people in power to read the thing at all), and some small honor or “best book” award will be bestowed, maybe. If I’m lucky. But probably not. Why not? After all. It’s a good book. I know the story is good. I know the characters are well-developed. I know the plot holds up to some scrutiny, though of course reviewers will read it like a sieve: full of holes in their estimations; I know the setting is interesting and valid; I know the themes and issues are true to life for the time and place. So why don’t I think it will win any attention? Because it’s a mystery, but it’s more a how and why than a who-done-it, and that will make critics scowl. And mostly, that’s how the cookie crumbles; that’s how luck runs, and that’s how reality shakes out. Being prepared for a middle-of-the-road reception for my baby in the world is the safest way to avoid heartbreak. I love this book, and my readers so far have too, but that doesn’t mean the big ol’ world is gonna love it. There. I said it out loud. And I’m not even a pessimist. At all. I’m being a realist.
Why am I writing all this down, if not to be pessimistic? I guess it’s because, somewhere deep inside, I know this story is good enough that it deserves to win something. It deserves to sell a bunch of copies, and every time a list comes out, I’m going to check if it’s on the list…so I’m writing this in recognition that a bunch of what happens to a book is just plain luck, right person reading at just the right time. And when luck doesn’t happen, I still want to enjoy sharing the story. I want to love having this book out in the world, and utterly enjoy the handful of readers who love it, too, instead of gnashing my teeth because there aren’t more of them.
So. I’m excited as all get-out because I know readers, or at least lots of readers, or at least some readers, will love this book, will love Grant O’Grady. I’m excited to talk about the book, give book talks and readings, and to tell stories about putting it together because this book came along a wildly winding ridiculous road to reach publication.
But I’m also not all geared up to have an internationally-famous bestseller overnight. Not gonna happen, so I can continue my magical summer life of a little-known writer who loves her life, adores her family, hangs out with her dog, rides her bike as many miles as she dares steal time to do so, and generally, is glad to be in the universe and above ground for yet another year.