Isadora, Isadora. This book, guys. To put things in perspective, PARANORMALCY's first draft was written in three weeks. MIND GAMES' in nine days. Isadora? Oh, you know, a year-and-a-half? Closer to two? I don't know how many times I got to fifty or one-hundred pages and started over, but it was at least four or five.
I do not keep working on something if I can't figure it out at fifty pages. Ever. I have no idea how many abandoned manuscripts with twenty, forty, fifty pages I have stacked up over the last few years, but it's a lot. If something is off--the voice, the plot, the pacing--I'm not afraid to abandon it.
And I abandoned Isadora.
But Isadora, being herself, wouldn't stand for it. I couldn't forget her voice, couldn't forget the setup, couldn't forget the boy. (Yes. The boy. Of course.) There is a certain constellation that is very important to the story, and for an entire winter whenever I'd see it I felt GUILTY. Actual, physical guilt in the pit of my stomach for giving up on Isadora's story, for letting her down.
(I will say it for you: crazytown.)
The other factor in this was two people: Natalie Whipple, my longtime crit partner and alpha reader, who has loved Isadora in all her forms, and always encouraged me. And Michelle Wolfson, my phenomenal agent, who read the first fifty pages of one of the drafts and said, "YES, THIS, I WANT THIS." And every time I mentioned I was working on something else, she said, "Sounds great! Can't wait to read it! What's happening with Isadora?"
Those two gave me the boost I needed to go back to a very hard story. In case it isn't obvious, I like writing fast. I like stories that come in a burst of inspiration, that piece themselves together effortlessly, that tell me what they are about from the start and let me just write them.
Isadora is a deliberately difficult girl, though, and I needed that time and those drafts, and most especially the incredibly insightful guidance of Erica Sussman, my editor at HarperTeen, to help me finally, FINALLY tell that story I'd been trying to all along. I can honestly say I've never been prouder of a book. I hope I never have to be this proud of one again, because really: so much work.
Now, to the point! My Fall 2013 book about the modern day daughter of Ancient Egyptian gods has a new title to reflect the book it has, through much sweat and frustration and very-teen-appropriate angst, become at long last:
THE CHAOS OF STARS
I love it. The title, the book, and my incredibly stubborn MC, Isadora. Can't wait for you to meet her! After you meet Fia and Annie from MIND GAMES in February, of course.
Now I just have to decide who I want you to meet in 2014...