There is just ONE DAY left until my debut novel, Dewey Belong Together, goes live! Over one year ago, I was writing a book about a mismatched couple on a series of misadventures in Canada, Sweden, and Japan. I didn’t imagine that I would ever finish that book (and indeed I haven’t yet) or that my life would change much until I checked my email and saw a reply from Smartypants Romance, a unique publishing company which allows authors to collaborate in the universe created by Penny Reid. I had submitted a chapter to them a few months before, and then promptly moved on, convinced that I wouldn’t be chosen. Well, cue up the near primal scream that came out of my mouth as I gaped at the email inviting me to join Launch 3, and make my childhood–and now adulthood–dream of becoming a published author a reality.
I still remember the first lengthy story I wrote. I was five, and it was about my ginger cat named Poco (after the mime on Mr. Dresssup, of course!). I had my own typewriter by ten, and was churning out stories, illustrating them with coloured pencils. I didn’t know anything about the world of publishing, but I knew that writing was my love, and I would come back to it time and again, especially during the difficult periods in my life. I never imagined it as a real career for myself, mostly due to a determination to go to university and focus on my studies, so I meandered through academia, loving writing nonfiction essays and papers. But still, that little unsatisfied tingle in the back of my mind that swam with stories would grab me now and then, and demand to be written out. I’m not sure how many started novels I have lurking on my external hard drives, but there are a lot. 🙂
When the opportunity came to write Dewey Belong Together, a book in the Green Valley Library series–perfect for me, as I have a Master’s in Library and Information Studies–I couldn’t say no. Writing epically slow, I thought of my own life, of sixteen years of playing massively multiplayer online roleplaying games, and meeting my partner of seven years in one. I realized I hadn’t read many gamer girls in romance, so Maxine Peters, AKA Maximus_Damage was born. Of course, everyone needs a good nemesis in an online game, and I made hers Jonathan Owen, AKA Wrath. Then I just had to get them in the same location and I knew the sparks would fly. And the watermelon. But I digress.
I’m going to use the word joy a lot in this paragraph, because it was a pure joy for me to write this story. My journey with this book I described early on as “joy and jenga,” because I knew it would also be precarious at times. I was writing about heavy subject matter in places, and I didn’t want to trigger myself–rather, I wanted to confront those demons, and show that a person living with the same illness as I can have a life of love, of joy, and of family, both biological and chosen. It was also a joy to be mentored by the amazing Penny Reid, and to receive the help I did from the entire team at Smartypants Romance, from the invaluable Fiona and Brooke, to my fellow authors, the editors, and even the cover designer (I screeched when I saw the cover, I really did.) And it was a joy to see my whole family and dear friends gather around this dream of mine, cheering me on and helping me make it come true, doing everything from listening to me complain on hard days, to beta reading my manuscript and helping make it better (thanks, Ashley!).
I hope that as you read, you find some element of joy in the book as well. I know this book covers some sensitive topics, and will not appeal to everyone. But I think that it is relatable to most people, because in spite of our flaws or our challenges, we all want to be loved. That’s what this book is about, ultimately, and love was a big part of the journey of this book’s creation. <3