Saturday, October 14, 2023

Four years later, this is where we are now

I first began playing around with what eventually became This Is Who We Are Now more than four years ago. Henry Bradfield was a Jim back then, at least in the oldest surviving draft still extant on my computer. Technically written on my previous desktop, which was sent to the storage closet six months later, it's a two-chapter beginning, dated July 4, 2019.

There are quite a few interim drafts littering my hard drive (and my cloud backup--you never want to be that guy who loses his WIP). The final version can trace its roots to a drastic revision I started two years ago after being convinced that the book started in the wrong place. Kill your babies, they say. I slashed almost half the book. Maybe someday some of the bits on the cutting-room floor will resurface in another project.

Henry's personality emerged through the rewrites, his extreme passivity identified and coached out of him. His wife Denise became a much kinder person over time, her over-the-top bitchiness eradicated after the top question for Henry became, "why are you still with this shrew?" Rusty and Kyle, their teen sons, remain the most recognizable from those early days, their initial personalities still largely intact.

The same cannot be said for Henry's parents, who were recast multiple times. In early versions, his father was a philandering college professor, whose wife stuck with him largely because she couldn't stand the thought of everyone in town gossiping about her marriage failing if she were to leave. They were turned on their heads when she became the cheating spouse, sleeping with various faculty members at the university where she taught, the scandal made both worse and more understandable by the accident which had left Henry's dad unable to focus on anything long enough to hold down a job due to his ensuing traumatic brain injury. Henry's sister, Margo, was catty and mean, his brother, Danny, generally lazy, at least until he helped their parents convert their home into a B&B. He also may have had a brief fling with Henry's high school girlfriend, Erin.

Looking back through it all now, it's hard to remember some of it was ever in there. Did I mention the revision was drastic?

In the four years and four months since I first began writing this novel, I set it aside several times to work on other projects or simply give it the space and time it needed to find its way into its final form. This time a year ago, I was feverishly writing about baseball, putting every free waking moment into Major League Debuts. I have never worked so intensely on anything in my life, and I was prepared to give it another go this spring until the sales just didn't justify the time, expense, and complete obliteration of any thought of relaxation. I much prefer the pace of writing a novel, at least at the pace I write, which is often dragged out further by detours, such as the three other novels I started since first conjuring up Henry and Denise. One of those stands a legit chance of being the next book completed, and I plan to turn my attention back to it soon, once I get through launching this one.

We are down to little more than a week until release day. You can pre-order This Is Who We Are Now for your Kindle now on Amazon ($5.99), and it will hit your device on Monday, Oct. 23. That is also the day the paperback will be available, though Amazon doesn't allow indie authors to set up pre-orders for those, so you'll have to set a reminder to buy it in real time as soon as it lists ($12.95).

It was a long and winding road to get here, but I think the delays were worth it in the end. I'm very excited about how it came out, though it is, as always, an anxious time releasing something new out into the world. How will it be received? I guess we'll find out soon.