Nervousness: It seems an appropriate inaugural blog post for an author. I have a novel – QUEEN OF KINGS – coming out in four days.
I’m tempted to convert that number into hours, and then into minutes and seconds, in order to make it look like I have more time to accomplish all of the five million little crazy things I need to accomplish before my book actually hits bookstores.
Instead, and, mind you, I’m not terribly proud of this admission, I’m doing things like:
1. Learn How To Apply Liquid Eyeliner, For Real This Time, From A Series of Random YouTube Videos
2. Gnaw Own Fingers
3. Test That Tiny Sombrero That Came From God Knows Where, On Cat’s Head. See If He Likes It Now.
I’m veering between panic and glee, and though it’s not pretty, it’s very much what all authors of my acquaintance look like in the week leading up to a book release. Overcaffeination, medicated by too much alcohol, medicated by caffeine again,and then the whole mess medicated by eating a whole jar of lemon-peel stuffed cocktail olives, straight out of the refrigerator, and then claiming I did it for the electrolytes.
This is a weird profession, after all. It’s one of the few jobs in which your performance review comes not from your boss, but from The Entire World. That’s actually a best-case version. In less happy (this is, after all, a blog about authorial nervousness) scenarios, your performance review comes from three people who 1) bought a $6.00 copy of your book on Ebay as an illegal ARC, 2) were horrified by your book because they thought it would be straight historical fiction without any monsters in it, and 3) knew and loathed you back in high school, and have been waiting for this moment to give your soul a 1 Star review. And they have a lot to say. In public forums. If you’re me, and you spent the last two years writing a book in which there is actually a lot of bloody and gladiatorial combat taking place in public arenas, maybe you get even a little more panic-stricken.
So, you wait. Crossing fingers, toes, eyes. And you try to remain calm. You try to be the sort of person who doesn’t even read reviews. I have a couple of author friends who claim that they’re this kind of person. I think they lie. Publishing a book is like having a baby, except that it takes longer. This one took two years. I am essentially a pregnant elephant at this point.
Not reading any of your book’s reviews is akin to skipping your kid’s first set of parent teacher conferences, and then saying “It doesn’t matter to me what the school thinks of my child. It’s not a big deal. Whatever.”
So, yeah. I show up at parent teacher conferences, hoping that I’m not going to get the news that my child bites.
This isn’t my first book. It won’t be my last – and that’s not even a god willing kind of statement, that’s a This Is A Trilogy And I’ve Already Sold It In Several Countries kind of statement.
It’s my first novel, though, and this is new territory. Not only is it my first novel, it’s completely different from anything I’ve ever done before. There are monsters in it, for one thing. A bunch of them. There’s magic, and witches, and Gods, and soulselling and blooddrinking, and a cameo appearance by Virgil. There’s also Cleopatra. A lot of her. In a form you’ve never seen her in before.
In short, it was insanely fun to write. Even though my first book was a memoir, and totally about me and my love life, this book feels like it is really more mine. Maybe it’s because the things that happen in QUEEN OF KINGS didn’t happen to me. This book feels like something I created, in a way that THE YEAR OF YES, though I certainly worked hard on writing it, never quite did. The Year of Yes felt like the book version of me, at a party, telling funny stories to a bunch of people. That’s my nature. I’m a compulsively gregarious person, and I do that all the time. So, when it came out, it was weirdly unscary. I felt like I’d done it before. I had a reasonably good sense of how people would feel about the stories in that book. This one, though – well, suffice it to say, I’ve never been at a party telling strangers a story about how I sold my soul to a god and ended up transformed into a monster.
I don’t think I have, anyway. I mean, I AM a writer. Sometimes I’ve been at parties where there was gin. Gin makes me see triple. Maybe it makes me tell monster stories. It definitely makes me overshare anecdotes about Ovid, as though he and I are old drinking buddies.
I wrote it, and then I worked with some amazing people to make it into actual visuals. It was surreal to watch something I’d imagined turn into real people doing real things – and it was also completely fulfilling. Even though it’s only a minute long, it made me feel calmer. It’s like having an imaginary friend come to life and go out into the world beside my book.
I hope you like the trailer. If you do, tell your friends. Share it with people. My friend, Sxip Shirey, one-man-band and composer extraordinaire, did the music. He’s working on a longer version, so if you like this, stay tuned. You’ll soon be able to download an entire track.
And if you like the book, do me a favor and go out into the public forums and say so.*
If you pre-order Queen of Kings, there’s a pre-order prize going on right now. Want an autographed serpent bookplate? Want to be entered in a contest to win a copy of Queen of Kings signed by me, and all the generous and stellar authors who blurbed the book? (That’s Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub, Danielle Trussoni and Garth Stein, in case you haven’t seen it yet.) Here’s how you enter.
Or walk into your local bookstore and ask for it, sweetly. Tell them it will behave well in their store. Tell them it will not bite.**
Now. Help me count the hours. Failing that, help me learn to apply liquid eyeliner.
*I promise, you won’t get stabbed by any other gladiators. Well, I guess I can’t promise that, but I CAN tell you that my personal writing gods will be smiling on you if you post a nice review. I’ve already arranged it. Took a lot of sacrificing of black rams, lemme tell you.
**Well, okay. She might bite. There’s a lot of biting in Queen of Kings. Tigers, lions, serpents, goddesses…