The trouble with completing a novel

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My next novel is complete. I finished edits over the phone with my editor yesterday afternoon. It didn’t hit me then that I was done, but it did later in the evening, and I feel a bit lost at this point.

And no, the woods above aren’t a metaphor for how I feel🙂 Much of the novel, Look Past, takes place in the woods, and it’s scary as hell. Yet, after having spent close to three years working on this story, I am kind of terrified by how it will be received. But first, here’s the catalog copy for the novel, for those of you who have no idea what Look Past is about:

Mary is dead—murdered in a brutal way. Avery, a transgender boy who loved Mary but who was shunned by Mary’s very strict Reverend father, can’t sit on the sidelines while the police, including his own uncle, handle the case. Therefore, his interest in forensics takes over and he goes to the crime scene. Avery’s investigating puts him in harm’s way, as the authorities are on edge, trying to decipher who the killer is, and have no time for the outcast teen. Avery must, like the rest of the town, wait for the police to do their job.

However, following Mary’s funeral, Avery receives the first in a series of disturbing texts that can only have come from the killer, revealing that Avery is now a target, dead-center in the continuing manhunt and investigation. With the entire town caught in the grip of fear and uncertainty, Avery is torn between finding the killer and protecting himself.

Soon, though, even hiding and hoping is taken from Avery. The killer, in a disturbing cat and mouse game, toys with Avery’s heart and his identity. If Avery plays along, can he bring Mary’s murderer to justice? Or will sacrificing himself be the ultimate betrayal?

With his characteristic honesty and gift for creating page-turning plots, author Eric Devine explores the depths one must go, in order to see past the superficial and to find the truth.

Gripping, right? And intense. At this point, these are facets of my writing that should be expected. But here’s the thing, I’ve never written a murder mystery before. I have read a ton since I was a child, but trust me, there’s a vast difference in having read one and having written one. Yet, I’ve pulled it off. It wasn’t easy, but with help, I figured it out.

Also, I’m not transgender. To me, I don’t find an issue with that. Like with the murder mystery aspect, for the gender disparity, I read a lot, and researched, and I interviewed people. I did the work. As an author, I believe that creativity is paramount to experience. To paraphrase Atticus from To Kill A Mockingbird, I should be able to climb into someone else’s skin and walk around in it. That’s the job. To be at a slight distance, objectively, from the world, but to feel, subjectively, everything.

And yet the landscape of social media and the ways YA is often picked apart for what it is, for what it lacks, and how the author is a manifestation of both, can be disturbing.

Possibly this is why my emotions are mixed. I love that Avery’s story is going to be out in the world. I love that a really good murder mystery is going to unfold. I love that perspectives are going to be challenged. Yet, it’s like raising a child for the past three years and having to let him go, only to then wait for people to bash him and my parenting skills. Good times.

Again, though, that’s the job. The words are complete. The story is finished. Soon I’ll receive a cover image, and by spring advanced reader copies will be available. It’s exciting, and terrifying, much like the story. Which I believe is a fair tribute to a little piece of my life, the years I have spent, which will now, morph into a new life in readers’ hands.

 

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