This week I finished up the events scheduled to promote the release of Not On Fire, Only Dying (more are in the works–TBA soon!) Finally, I’m home. But…
For the last 10 years, when I say “I’m home” it’s followed by an immediate hesitation, because while, yes, I’m with my husband and son and cats and dog in the house we own in the Atlanta burbs, it doesn’t really feel like Home. Especially when I’ve just returned from the Northeast, which is where my heart lives. I feel it most acutely when I’m the NYC Metro, where I grew up, and in the autumn, and when I’m thinking about or discussing NOFOD. It’s set in New York’s Hudson Valley and, in some ways, it’s a love letter to the region. Twisted, obsessive, and desperately hopeful–like any worthwhile love letter.
I was in New Jersey most recently, at Labyrinth Books, across the street from Princeton University which I visited throughout my childhood, accompanying my father to his Class of ’54 Reunions, and then later, visiting my sister, Class of ’91. For 5 years I worked as a Book Buyer for the wholesaler Baker & Taylor in Bridgewater, NJ. My son attended a woodsy day care in Flemington where he fed goats and rabbits and came home exhausted and gloriously filthy every day. We bought tomatoes and corn at nearby farms, giggled through corn mazes and hay rides and took the train into Manhattan all the time.
In Princeton I was reminded that, to me, New Jersey looks like Home. It smells like Home. It sounds like Home (if you live in a place with an accent–or language–different from what you grew up with, you understand. Maybe you don’t miss the familiar sounds like I do, but you understand).
Still, this Southern suburb is my home for now, and where the people I love most reside. It’s also where I’m finding inspiration for my…deep breath…next novel. And it’s time to turn my attention to that, at last. This year has been a steep but thrilling learning curve for me as my book was edited and published and then I did everything I could think of to help connect it with likely readers and reviewers. I discovered that reading in front of a crowd, once something I dreaded, is actually something I kind of enjoy. I love talking to readers about what they see in the book, what questions it raises for them, how it frustrates or moves them. I love expanding the conversation to ideas in general or their own writing. And of course I loved meeting fellow authors and visiting these fabulous independent bookstores. But the truth is I haven’t written much since I hopped on the Debut Author Roller Coaster. I miss writing like I miss the flavor of a perfectly ripe Jersey tomato. Or a slice of New York pizza. Or a decent bagel.
I AM excited to be home, where I have a folder of scribbled notes for my next work-to-be, where I have roughly 70,000 words written–all of which will probably be scrapped, but for me that’s a part of the process. I have to write my way to the story. I’m on my way to that next novel, if not yet on my way Home.
From “Time Has Come Today” (the Ramones cover, natch–I played that Subterranean Jungle cassette until it broke). I think it’s time I got to it.
Now the time has come
There are things to realize
Time has come today.