I wished whole-heartedly when I was small (Mom will tell you I have never been young…while my husband Trent will tell you I haven’t grown up yet) that someone would pay me to read. I realized a few years ago as I was approaching 700 books reviewed for Kirkus Reviews, School Library Journal, VOYA, Hornbook, Publishers Weekly (can you believe there’s an Etc. here?) that my childhood wish had come true.
Between reviewing and my daytime gig as a Children’s Librarian who has to read ‘em before I can buy ‘em, I was actually getting paid to read. I also wished as small-Tim that I could get paid to write. Because that fabulous feeling of a world coming to life even if that world is only a sentence nicely wrought, that feeling, a physical sensation of expansion at the back of my head, was and is the best feeling ever. Writing reviews even when blurbed on book covers or quoted back to me by managing editors of publishing houses just did not satisfy.
I had written short stories (with an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing, that’s not surprising) and seen some published. I had also written a couple novels no one wanted to put into print. So I put on my editor’s hat and published the stories myself. I polished off the novels and thought, “These are as good as some of what I review.” I set to work on one that started with a walk down a blustery Dorchester, Massachusetts street years ago when something dark and fluttery that wasn’t a bird or a bat up under the eaves of a triple-decker caught my eye and my imagination. When I considered it done, it met agents and editors who did not share my opinion of its doneness…or its good-enoughness. I wanted that traditionally published book (Even when reading, I don’t do eBooks, you’ll have to pry the paperback from my cold, dead hands…) I wanted to be published the normal way.
In Shadowangel, sixth-grader Josh is dragged from Dayton (my hometown, too) to Rock Hollow in the hills of south-central Ohio by his newly-divorced mother. He’s visited there many times; it’s his mother’s hometown. Rock Hollow is boring and full of odd characters not the least of which is his Granma who, as the retired town librarian, is full of tales of strange happenings and quirky family members. Josh just wants everything to get back to normal…to be normal. His new friend Marylis can’t wrap her head around that. She can’t imagine wanting to be normal; she, in fact, doesn’t even believe in normal. As she says, “Everyone since cavemen and until the sun dies is, was and will be weird.” So I decided not to spin my wheels for another year waiting for normal, and Shadowangel saw print and met the world in December. The other two from the trunk may follow, and then we’ll see what happens next. It will definitely be normally weird.