THE NAUGHTY LIST Kickstarter launches later this week. Get ready!
As a teenager, I enjoyed the YA novels of Paul Zindel (THE PIGMAN, CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE BABOON, PARDON ME – YOU’RE STEPPING ON MY EYEBALL). Indeed, I eventually quit reading YA books, long before the normal slide from YA fiction to adult novels, simply because I could find no other YA writer with Zindel’s ability to capture real teens.
Joe R. Lansdale’s new YA novel, FENDER LIZARDS, captures a lot of that Zindel spirit and characterization. It’s a novel 14-year old Brian would have loved and 48-year old Brian very much enjoyed. FENDER LIZARDS is about Dot — a teenage protagonist who lives in a Texas trailer park with her mother, brother, flatulent grandmother, and bank-robbing uncle — and her efforts to form a girl’s roller derby team, reunite with her estranged father, date a boy from the other side of the tracks, and avoid going to jail. It’s a Lansdale novel, and Lansdale is a genre of one. Highly recommended for readers of all ages. Available on Kindle and in hardcover.
Earlier today, I typed “The End” on the first draft of a long-overdue novel called HOLE IN THE WORLD. It’s a prequel to THE LOST LEVEL (available here) but takes place long before that novel and features a different cast of characters. I say long-overdue because it’s just that. It’s taken me nearly six years to finish this first draft. Some of that was due to health and other uncontrollable factors. Some of it was because halfway through, I realized I’d have to finish THE LOST LEVEL before I could finish this one, as events from one would impact the other. it’s also worth noting that this is a second first draft. An earlier version of the novel was a terrible, incomprehensible mess, and got tossed.
It’s still not finished-finished. The first draft needs to sit for a week or two. Then I’ll tackle the second draft. When that’s finished, I’ll send it off to pre-readers. When I get their feedback, I’ll do a quick third draft. Then it will go off to the publisher, Camelot Books (who have been gracious and patient and understanding despite the inexcusable delay).
Six years. That’s the longest I’ve ever spent on a book. The quickest was THE GIRL ON THE GLIDER (available here), which was written in seven days, and URBAN GOTHIC (available here) and the forthcoming PRESSURE (coming in June) both of which were written in a month.
There’s a lesson here, for newer writers, but I’ll be damned if I can articulate it. Some things get written quickly, like the type of cancer that cuts a healthy human being down to bone in the space of a month. Others are slow-growing tumors, swelling and pulsating for years.
Yes, I just equated writing with cancer. Writers are a weird lot.