If there ever was a novelist to whom I’d like to be compared, it would be Thomas Harris (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, etc.). I’ve always admired his writing style, his handling of subject matter and characters, and the fact that his work seems to be so epic.
Keep that in mind as we move forward here 😉
We couldn’t sell NORMAL. We tried like crazy, and although we got tons of nice rejections, they were, nonetheless, rejections. While all of these rejections were coming in, I was writing PUNISHMENT. The novel was born of a shower idea–you know, when you’re in the shower washing your hair, and then suddenly you’re running naked down the hall to find a pen and paper so you don’t forget your idea. You’ve been there, too, right? Standing in the kitchen, dripping and soapy, writing on a paper towel with a greasy chicken wing?
Eh, maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, I wrote the book and felt like it was pretty darn good, so I sent it to my agent and she loved it. I expected another 20,000 word requirement, but not this time. This time we just started shopping it.
But, again with the rejections. One after another for a year or so. Bummer… until we got a request to read more from a BIG publishing house.
I drank that night.
The acquiring agent at the big publishing house read the full manuscript and then, lo and behold, he wanted to talk to me directly. He asked my agent if he could get me on the phone, and I said, “Um, yeah!”
So I spent a half hour talking with this guy, and it was awesome. We talked about the book, the publishing industry, where things may go in the future, etc., and at one point he said, “I get a strong Thomas Harris feeling from your writing. It’s like I’m reading Silence of the Lambs, only with a bit more horror.”
You couldn’t knock me over with a feather because I was already face flat.
He wanted me to do some rewriting, after which he would read again and we’d take it from there. So I rewrote the book based on his notes (which were awesome and very helpful) and sent it back.
And then waited.
Honestly, this was the slowest and most painful five weeks of my life. I’d been doing nothing but waiting on the publishing industry for five years, but this five weeks was backbreaking because I was so close…
… and yet so far. When I finally heard back, the message was, essentially, this: “We love your book, but we don’t know where it fits on the shelf in the bookstore. Is it a thriller? Is it horror? It’s hard to define, so unfortunately we’ll have to pass.”
And, unfortunately for me, I would have to quit writing.
I just couldn’t take the pummeling anymore. Panic attacks, misery, tears, breakdowns, you name it. It was too much. And now, to come so close only to be denied by confusion over genre? They might as well have just shot me in the face. I was absolutely, positively done.
For about a day 😉
Because fuck that. I’ll keep on grinding. Bring it on.
Or to put it more delicately – despite all the pain and misery, the fire of my passion now burned too hot to ignore. Writing wasn’t a choice for me, anymore. I’ll wallpaper my house with the rejections, but I will not–cannot–stop. Eric said, if you wanted to be a writer, you would write. Well, I didn’t want to be a writer anymore, I was a writer. I am a writer… so I write.
And I keep getting pummeled…