A couple of years ago, early in the process of having realized that these funny little embellished/altered/shifted memory based stories I’d been playing with for a months was going to be a book I got some of the best advice I’ve ever received as a writer. I was meeting with Toni Amato my writing editor who pushed me HARD in the ways I needed to be pushed as I wrote Roving Pack (seriously writing buddies – got a project you’re working on? Hire him). Anyway, I was crashing hard having a lot of fears and concerns about what the response to a book like Roving Pack would be. Kicked Out is a hard book to follow, and the novel is very very different. I was worried about some of the stories I wanted to tell – the really queer shit, the perverted stuff, the way gender works (and doesn’t) and I was nervous that those stories would be too much….. too much for publishers, and maybe even too much for readers. He told me:
“Write the most dangerous stories you can imagine.”
I remember really vividly that moment when Toni told me to forget about the anticipated judgments and just write, but to write dangerously. It was early in the writing process for what would eventually become this book. It was at a point where I was trying to get my voice back, a voice that had been controlled and molded by publishers and editors I’d been working with on previous projects who had a vision for who I was as a writer, where I was going, and how my work should/would/could sound—— I hated it. I’m an edge player by nature, and Toni knew that. I thrive on intensity; I’m best when being pushed (by myself and others). My writing is at its best it edgeplays, when it’s intense and hits the sweet spot of evenly matched grit and glitter. I honestly feel that Roving Pack is simultaneously the most edgy thing I’ve written to date, and also the best.
Toni telling me to forget the self-censorship and to write the most dangerous stories I could was a huge wake-up call for me. He said that there would be time for editing, that I could shift and edit and remove stories that felt too dangerous later, but for the moment the most important thing was to get them onto the page. I wrote his message on a post-it note and kept it hung above my writing desk. By the time Roving Pack was finished, edited, edited again, reworked, and edited further I had made the decision to keep every single dangerous story. In the end, Roving Pack is a far edgier novel than I could even have anticipated when I began working on it, and it’s a far better book because of the risks I took around style, and form, but especially around content.
Yesterday an old friend told me “some people birth babies, you birth books.” It’s true. Writing a book and seeing it through publication feels very much like giving birth, and is no less intense the second time around. Roving Pack is it’s own book, made possible in so many ways because of the experience I’ve had with Kicked Out but unique and distinct with a voice and life all its own. I’m so excited to watch and see where it goes in the world!
P.S. Earlier this week I went public on this blog about how important pre-orders are to me as an indie author who’s invested a lot of money in this project. I’m humbled and thrilled that the week the number of pre-orders has literally doubled! There is still a long way to go for me to break even on this project and if you’re thinking you’ll be purchasing Roving Pack at some point, now would be a great time to do it! I see more profit from pre-orders than I will once the book hits the retail channels, not to mention you’ll get to have it on your bookshelf before it hits the stores! It will come signed/dedicated right to your door with special edition one-inch buttons based on the cover art!