ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE was the third full-length novel I’d written. The first two books are buried deep in a documents folder on my computer, but ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE will be hitting the shelves of bookstores in less than 2 weeks. Why did the first two books fail, while ALP got me an agent and a two-book deal?
Well, there are lots of reasons, but in the end – for me – it boils down to the Goldilocks Syndrome.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, the Goldilocks Syndrome sounds like something you just made up right now for the purposes of this blog post.”
Wow, you are perceptive.
Yes, I did just make it up, but that doesn’t make it any less true, so *please* just stick with me here.
My first book was the bowl of porridge that was too cold. It was a romance novel that was too much like other contemporary romances that I’d read and loved. It was a paint by numbers book and the end result wasn’t exactly ugly, but was actually something even worse – DUN DUN DUN!! It was unoriginal. Yuck.
My second book was the bowl of porridge that was too hot. I wrote an urban fantasy and threw everything I had into it. There were chases, all kinds of crazy creatures, and a cast of characters that numbered into the double digits. It was wildly original and also a hot mess. Yuck.
My third book was the bowl of porridge that was juuuuust right. I’d learned to color inside the lines and also waaaay outside the lines. Now, I put both of them together.
This is why in some ways ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is little bit different and maybe even weird. Some things are small – like I didn’t number the chapters. Other things are bigger, like throughout the book there are jumps back and forth in time, but the reader is never explicitly told where or when they are. Readers, along with my main character, have to put together the pieces of what happened to Annaliese Rose Gordon. I also pushed the envelope a bit on mature content (ie: violence, language, and sex. You can read more about that here.). There are also little bits of poetry that intertwine with the narrative.
Of course, in other ways, ANOTHER LITTLE PIECE is not that different from other young adult books. There’s a teenage girl. A romantic interest. A best friend. Parents. Mean kids at school. Pretty much all the usual teenage trappings are present and accounted for… only they’re twisted a tiny bit.
Anyone who cooks knows that the best way to make sure your porridge turns out just right, is to taste it while you are still cooking. The problem with applying this theory to writing is that you aren’t cooking one meal over the course of several months. This long stretch of time makes it much harder to tell when something tastes off. So to keep myself on track and make sure I was staying in that ‘juuust right’ porridge spot, I read.
Jellicoe Road, Bleeding Violet, The Sky is Everywhere, When You Reach Me, and many other wonderful and original books where all on my reading list. I used them as palate cleansers, sign posts (yes, I know I’m mixing metaphors, and I apologize but it can’t be helped), and inspiration. These books, all wildly original in their own ways, helped me make sure I was making my own path without going too far off into the wilderness.
Now I can only hope that when readers take a bite of my porridge (yes! back to the food metaphor) they will also find it to be: juuuuust right.