(First, thank you. Thank you so very very much for being excited with me! It means the world to me that you are here, reading, and that you'll keep reading. You rock.)
So. Umm. Yeah.
It's weird, because in Isadora's case I've spent so long NOT telling anyone what it's about. And in MIND GAME'S case, well, it hasn't been around for very long.
(Yeah, this is the funny part of the deal: I sold the book I've spent the most time working on [eighteen months? Two years? Four different times of throwing out 50 or 100 pages and starting over] and the book I've spent the least amount of time working on. Because yes, for those who have been asking, MIND GAMES is my nine-day novel. But that's totally misleading, and I'll tell you why. As soon as I can get out of this parenthetical statement.)
(I GOT OUT!)
Those of you who have been around for a while might be thinking--a book using Egyptian mythology, and a book using psychics and mind-readers? Those sound just like KEEPING KING TUT (the first novel I ever wrote) and FLASH (the second novel I ever wrote, the first YA I ever wrote, and the book that got me Marvelous Michelle). (Also similar to the third novel I ever wrote, which was a companion to FLASH, which I abandoned when FLASH didn't sell.)
To which I would respond: Well, yes. And no. Because here is where I am going to tell you that no book is ever a waste. MIND GAMES and FLOOD AND STONE are not those early books. But they wouldn't exist without them.
I spent a ton of time researching Egyptian mythology and history for my disastrously boring middle grade novel. So when I needed something new to write and my friend Natalie suggested I do something with Egyptian mythology since I had already put in all of that time, Isadora was born.
It was a very long, painful, gruesome birth. The kind of birth story that makes you not want to have kids, ever. (I mean, makes you not want to write books, ever.) I got to 100 pages and realized something was not working. I set it aside. Usually this is the kiss of death for books, but Isadora's voice wouldn't leave me alone. I started again. It still wasn't working. I set it aside.
But in the end, Isadora, the teenage daughter of Ancient Egyptian gods, knew she wanted her story told, and also knew how she wanted it told. When I finally gave up trying to make it what I thought it should be, lo and behold it became exactly what it needed to be. It's about family. It's about that terrible time when, as a young teenager, you realize your parents aren't perfect. (Made even worse when your imperfect mother is the freaking goddess of motherhood.) It's about being too stubborn to accept love when it is given if it isn't given in the exact way you think you need it.
Also museums and slushies and first kisses and carne asada french fries and scarab beetles and blue eyes and interior design and snakes and skeezy relatives.
MIND GAMES was a bit different. Because yes, I wrote the book as it is now in nine days. And it wasn't a rewrite of those other books. It has different characters, an entirely new setting, an entirely different plot. But. But. It is the brainchild of two complete manuscripts and ten years (no, seriously, TEN YEARS) of daydreaming and worldbuilding and imagining and trying to figure out how to tell a story with these elements that I found so fascinating.
So yes. A nine day draft, informed by two complete manuscripts and ten years of dreaming. And, honestly, if it weren't for those two failed books, and for every book that has happened since, I wouldn't have been able to write MIND GAMES. I took the kernels of the ideas that I loved, and happily I am finally to a place in my writing where I was able to capture the type of story that I wanted to tell with those ideas. It's dark. It's a bit disturbing. It's a complicated format (non-linear, two POVs). It's about two sisters, and love, and impossible choices. It's about trying to do the right thing when everything around you is always wrong.
Oh, yeah, and it's about people who can read minds and see the future and hang out with devastatingly handsome (and probably very bad for you) boys.
In the end, these are two entirely new books. But they are two entirely new books that would be impossible without all of the books that came before them. So if you are a writer, and you're sad that you might have to leave an early manuscript behind, please know that it's never a waste. You learned. You grew as a writer. You wrote what you could when you could, and what you write in the future will always, always benefit from what you wrote in the past.
(See, if you were a psychic you'd already know this.)
(You'd probably also be in my book. And that would be a bad thing. So be glad you aren't a psychic, and instead have to learn these things through trial and error. Or reading my blog. Which hopefully is neither a trial nor an error.)