Monday, March 17, 2008


So, I got the galleys and the cover art can be shown on the web.

And I finally let my wife and son read it. Well... I can't really say "let," because I never stopped her from reading it. She's just so superstitious and she wanted to wait until I had finished all the editing and it was in its final form. I tried to get her to read it a number of times, but I guess I'm glad she waited because it's as close to perfect now (except for a bizarre typo on page 72) as it ever will be.

She finished reading it before my son did, but then again, he has a very demanding school and rugby schedule.

I don't think it matters what they said about it. There can be no more biased and fluff-filled review than one given by an artists' loved ones. But I will say that they each had at least one comment I never would have expected.

My wife told me she was jealous of Luz, the girl Troy (the main character) falls in love with.

Hmm... okay.

And my son laughed out loud when he read a part in the book that I didn't think was funny. In fact, I thought it was a scary part, but to a thirteen-year-old boy, there were elements of what was happening that I now realize can be funny in a cathartic kind of boy-zen-release-I'm-glad-that-happened way. And he sat next to me when he read that part, and he turned the pages very quickly, which made me happy.

So all is good, I think, and I'll leave it at that.

Friday, March 7, 2008

ghost galleys (part 2)

"Once upon a time," I’d say, "there was a boy..."

"Named Trevin." He always finished the line that way.

And I would go from there, just making things up until he fell to sleep, telling him stories about someone that he might be.

Like so many boys, as Trevin grew older, he developed a real taste -almost an addiction- for reading fantasy. This began happening right around the time I started writing again, and I remember him telling me how he wanted to be a writer when he grew up.

So I started putting Ghost Medicine, a blending of stories I'd written in the past, together. I suppose I really started writing it for Trevin, but I never intended the novel to be labeled as a "Young Adult" work. It just happened that the story's main characters are in their teens, so it was easy to fit into that particular niche.

What I wanted to do was give my son a book in which the main character, a boy, solves the biggest imaginable problems - contending with death, love, and change - not through magic or fantasy, but with his own human strengths and flaws.

But there is plenty of magic in Ghost Medicine, and Troy, the main character, observes it with wonder and amazement along every step of his journey: the magic of friendship and the unspoken bonds that we form; the magic of the natural world in all its beauty and power; the magic of coincidence that connects every event and makes us believe there is something more than what we see and understand; and the magic of falling in love.

It's really not like anything else that's out there, and I am very happy that my publisher, Jean Feiwel, and editor, Liz Szabla, decided it was a story worth telling, too.


Wednesday, March 5, 2008

ghost galleys

Now that the advance review copies of Ghost Medicine are out, I realize that people are actually going to read it. Maybe some already have. It’s kind of exciting to think about someone I’ve never met reading a story that I made up, but it’s also intimidating -- something I’m not absolutely sure I ever wanted when I started this.

I know that seems like a contradiction for a writer to confess to it, but I never believed an audience was something needed or wanted. And at the same time I was confident in my ability and in the quality of what I was writing, as egotistical as that may sound coming from someone with literary stage fright. Oh, I have no problem getting up in front of people. In fact, I'm quite comfortable with it, but there's something about having people read my fiction that makes me feel naked.

I’ve been paid on and off for writing ever since I was a teenager; as a stringer for a local newspaper, a copy and news writer for a radio station, and I’ve had things appear over the wire services and in national magazines.

But I wrote less frequently after my son was born, maybe because I was so consumed by the experience of being a new father. I did read aloud to him, every day, though. There probably aren’t too many infants who’ve sat through entire readings of novels by writers like Twain, Faulkner, Crane, and Hawthorne. I think that was what gave him his love of reading. He is an insatiable reader, and has been ever since he could turn a page and only guess at the sounds the letters there made.

My wife and I were lucky that we’ve never really had to leave our kids in anyone else’s care. Our jobs and schooling always seemed to have opposite schedules, perfectly coordinated to leave one of us at home for the kids. I mostly got nights when Trevin was a baby. To put him to sleep, I’d tell him a story, every night. And our stories always began the same way:

"Once upon a time," I’d say, "there was a boy..."

"Named Trevin." He always finished the line that way, ever since he was just a year old.

And I would go from there, just making things up until he fell to sleep, telling him stories about someone that he might be.

It's late. This is too long for a blog entry, something tells me.

I'll post the second half on Friday.