Books. Oh, how fast they grow up. From the tiny germ of an idea, to a plot, to words on a page, to that frustrating will-it-won’t-it-work phase, to a manuscript, to a marked-up-red-penned mess, to a printed book…
And now my baby is out in the world.
I remember when I first sat down to write this book. I was actually in the passenger’s seat of a car. My husband was driving. We were on our way to Maine for a vacation with friends, a celebration of my best friend beating cancer. I knew I wanted to write a verse novel, but didn’t exactly know what it’d be about. And then I heard the voice of Skyler Wise, telling me about how her dad left her on his motorcycle, how cool he looked leaving her. How her family had a curse of falling in love with bad boys.
The story echoed my own teenage life. Not to say I was running around dating bad boys all day. But I was a perfectionist who often thought herself above silly things like love, all eyes on college. And color me surprised when I fell for quite a few people anyway—because I was human and sometimes falling in love fills that need to be seen. There were heart-felt promises and late-night-phone-call breakups and mind games and heartbreaks. Like many teens, I painfully learned firsthand how relationships should and shouldn’t be, leaving behind a sea of tissues and empty ice cream containers.
I wanted to write a book that spoke to the rollercoaster of a first relationship. A book about finding out who you are when it seems like everyone already has an idea about you. I wanted to write the book I needed, back when.
So I wrote the first few poems in Maine, sometimes just as a note in my phone, excited that the story was pouring out of me. I’ve probably never written anything so close to home. Skyler’s relationship with her mom was a lot like mine in its closeness. Skyler’s perfectionism and identity crisis rang true to my own. While Cole isn’t based on any one person I knew, he felt like an amalgam of people in my past, and in the lives of my friends. Unlike most books I’ve written, there wasn’t a slump in my writing—the story just kept plugging along.
And now here it is—a fully-formed thing. No longer just an idea. I hope that it lands in the hands of the right reader. The one who needs it. Just like I needed Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti back when I was a teen. A little light to say they’re not alone, and that they are perfect just the way they are.
Thank you to the many godparents of this book—my husband and parents and friends for always being there, my editor Theresa for championing my book, my designer Sam for creating the cover of my dreams, my critique partner Alyssa for years of support, my BNCWI writer's group for their endless wisdom, my mentor Mick Cochrane for teaching me everything I know, my many first-draft readers who gave me the criticism and enthusiasm it took to believe in my book, and the team at West 44 Books and Enslow Publishing who made this a reality. Lastly, I’d like to thank my cat, for filling the white blank pages by walking over my keyboard during writer’s block.
Happy birthday, Every Little Bad Idea. Much love.