Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Very Exciting (to me) Book Deal News

I don’t usually use my blog to announce things – mainly because I don’t usually have anything to announce – but here I am, adjusting my tie, polishing my megaphone: I!Have!News!

Here in my blog-world, I go on and on about how I’m writing, and I am. Every now and then, all this writing actually turns into a book. JULIA VANISHES is set to be published in the Spring of 2016, which may sound like a long way off to you, but between now and then I will be working with Nancy Siscoe of Knopf in the US and Amy Black of Doubleday in Canada, and I am… *practicing understatement since it’s not like you can see the little jig I’ve been jigging for days now* …Very Excited. JULIA VANISHES is the first book in a fantasy trilogy (I know, I’m such a one-trick pony) about a spy-for-hire who takes on a job posing as a maid in a wealthy, eccentric household, and finds herself on the wrong side of a power struggle between ancient forces.

The Publisher’s Weekly announcement is here, if you are interested in that sort of thing.

As a side note, this all came about while I was deep in Annie Cardi’s first novel, “The Chance You Won’t Return,” about a girl whose mother has a mental breakdown and believes she is Amelia Earhart. I will admit that, as the good news sank in, I had more than a few moments of fearing I might be delusional and making the whole thing up. If that turns out to be the case, I apologize, but I am just going to keep living in this fantasy world where the likes of Nancy Siscoe and Amy Black like my book and want to work with me, so don’t bother trying to bring me back to reality. I like it here, thankyouverymuch.

*puts away megaphone*

*loosens tie*

*jigs another jig, very quietly*


On Filling Boxes

My 3-year-old has a little tin he calls his treasure box, and in it he keeps assorted bits and bobs, pennies and string and stones he likes.

This morning, he was trying to fit another, slightly smaller tin inside his treasure tin.

“I can’t do it!” he shouted at me, like this was my fault, like I ought to be able to wave aside the laws of the physical world so he could fit one tin inside another even though it doesn’t fit.

I did solve the problem, however. I gave him a Tupperware container and said, Look, you can put both of them in this box. Aren’t I clever?

He put both tins in the Tupperware container, very pleased. Then he stared at it, thinking. He got up and went to the cupboard and took out our largest Tupperware container and said, “Can I use this?”

I was pleased he bothered to ask, so I said, Sure. He put the small Tupperware container, with its two tins, inside the large Tupperware container. And he looked at it.

The large Tupperware container was so much larger than the other. I guess it looked kind of empty. He went and got a box of tissues and three stuffed cats and put them inside the large Tupperware container, so that it was full.

And looked at it.

He said, “I need a bigger box.”

We just happened to have a large, empty cardboard box that I hadn’t put out with the recycling yet, so I said, You can use that one.

He put the large, full Tupperware container into the big box. He looked at it. He said, “I need to fill this box up.”

He got plastic dinosaurs. He got underwear and socks. He got some books. He got some duplo building blocks. He rushed back and forth, so busy, so serious.

“This is big work,” he told me. “This is the biggest work I have to do.” He panted a bit, to show me how hard he was working, how exhausting this big work was. He filled that box, and he was so happy while he was doing it.

But then it was full. He dragged it around a bit, looked at the contents.

He said hopefully, “Do we have another box?”

He knew we didn’t. I shook my head. That’s the biggest box in the house, I told him.

He suggested emptying out the refrigerator so he could use that. I said that was not a good idea. He looked around, wandering from room to room like a bigger box might materialize if he wished for it hard enough. All his busy joy had evaporated. It wasn’t enough anymore, that big box full of smaller boxes.

I suggested a bike ride. No, he said crossly. I suggested we might dig for worms, which is one of my least favorite activities, but he looked so forlorn. He agreed, head drooping, leaning sadly against me while I helped him put on his shoes.

I know how he feels. It’s like writing a book. It starts with something small but exciting. It expands, ballooning outward as you add characters and backstory and the world develops. You feel terribly busy and preoccupied with it. It feels like Big Work, and it is so satisfying as it grows from a character or a premise to a Story. But eventually it is done and you look at it and you think, hey look, I’m done! Look at this lovely book I made! But somehow it isn’t quite how you thought it would be.

I never really want to be done. Being done is thrilling for a short time, and then it makes me inexplicably sad, and I have to start over with something new as soon as possible. Luckily stories, unlike boxes, are not in limited supply.

And having wrung all the juice I can out of that metaphor, I’m going to go back to writing a book, because this is the Biggest Work I have to do.