My mother likes to tell the story of when she thought I learned how to read. I was almost four years old, on her lap while she read me my favorite book. She paused for a minute and I took over, telling the story perfectly through the end. Impressed with this flash of brilliance, Mom handed me a new book and waited for me to repeat my performance.
I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. I hadn’t been reading the first book. I’d just memorized it, because she read it to me so much.
Today I still have books like that—books I’ve read multiple times, that I slip into like a favorite pair of pajamas whenever I need a dose of comfort. A Little Princess. The Hunger Games. Our Mutual Friend. The Secret History. A Confederacy of Dunces. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
I can’t imagine a better writing compliment than to have someone return to the world you’ve built. The suspense is over, character arcs are complete, the end is known—but still, something pulls people back in. Maybe it’s the setting, the story line, the language, or that you’ve managed to create characters that feel real enough to miss.
Either way, it’s magical. Hell, having someone commit enough time to read your book once is pretty incredible.
2016 has been a rough year in many ways, but when it comes to writing, I have nothing but gratitude. Two weeks into the new year this past January, I sent the first query for my 3rd book. I still remember my hand hovering nervously over that “submit” button, because this was a dream agent and what if my book wasn’t ready?
That ended up being the best chance I ever took.
I’m so thankful to all the people who made my debut possible: my incredible agent team at Stimola Literary Studio, my brilliant editor at Delacorte Press, and all the wonderful CPs and betas who read and offered insight. In six months, ONE OF US IS LYING will hit the shelves—and who knows? Maybe it will become somebody’s favorite. Or something they enjoy enough to recommend. (Or, let’s face it, something they mark did not finish on Goodreads because it just didn’t appeal).
Either way, it’s magical.
Karen McManus writes YA contemporary fiction from her home in Cambridge, Mass. Her debut novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017, and published in fourteen countries. For more information, visit www.karenmcmanus.com or @writerkmc on Twitter.
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