Monday, April 1, 2024

What Becomes of Loyalty When No One is Loyal to You?

On March 7, 2020, with the early pandemic raging especially in NYC, and booksellers, schools, and libraries all frantically shut or shutting down (not to mention publishing offices), my then-5th title, JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME came out -- and quickly disappeared, given that no one was around to promote it or even see it on booksellers' shelves. It broke my heart. My earlier books had been critically well reviewed but had never made much of a breakthrough in sales... and then "KEROUAC" had, pre-release, gotten a pretty unheard of audio deal for a YA title, after a bit of a bidding war (these are often through separate publishers who negotiate for the rights), which had my editor and I believing that KEROUAC might have been my "It" book. My "breakthrough." Obviously, the pandemic had other ideas.
The hardcover version of JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME has been remaindered by my publisher and, I assume, will soon be put out of print (if it hasn't already been... I might not know as, despite the fact that I have published seven critically well reviewed novels all from major publishers, they seem not to think much of us unless we are making them a fortune... So be it...). JL in JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME is the main character closest to me as a young adult... not her family (thank goodness) but the judgement and misjudgments she experiences at the hands of the most important friends in her life, and other teen girls, and, ultimately, the utter abandonment. I think JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME is an important story, because I believe we must talk about what teen girls -- and women! -- do to one another when we judge and tear down. As well as examine the power we girls and women might have in this world if we did the opposite: lifted each other up. For starters, I believe so many of us would be less vulnerable to situations where so many of us end up wearing hashtags of #metoo. I could never have gotten a paperback of JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME to print by myself. And I am SO very grateful to Jeff Fielder and FMP Publishing for getting it out there for me. And it is available with not one but two extraordinary covers by the talented Darklee Ayllon.
In rereading this book in order to prepare it for its paperback publication, I will say there are so many things I think I did well with it -- including writing some incredibly steamy scenes, which I get can (and should!) make you uncomfortable, and make you think about the complexity of our sexuality ... and what it does -- and does NOT entitle others to in our expression of it). I also think it has one of the most breath-stealing and emotional last 40-50 pages of almost any book I've ever read (of course, I don't read many thrillers or fantasy books, so I guess we're talking realistic fiction here, which I acknowledge might be a different bar).
All I can say is that each time I read them, my heart pounded and my heart broke for JL -- and for the young girls SO MANY OF US were and still are. - Gae

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