I had a surprise show up via UPS over the weekend: a box containing a few dozen copies of my latest book, The Plain Of Bitter Honey.
Bitter Honey is my seventh novel, so I’ve been around this particular block six times before, yet, when I held that copy for the first time, admiring the beautiful cover, thumbing through the pages, inhaling the musty combination of paper and ink, I became as thrilled as I was five years ago when I held my first novel, Island Song, for the first time. I guess it’s a buzz that never diminishes, at least I hope so.
I suppose all novelists think their latest book is their best, grandest work. I have thought that with each of my stories. To me, they are like stair steps, each higher and better than the last, leading to some unknown destination.
For the first time, I feel I have created a ‘body of work’. Seven published novels, one more to finish this year, and a collection of short stories that I also hope to complete this year, feels like I’ve accomplished some personal goal. It finally feels like I’ve become a writer, the type of writer I dreamed of becoming fifteen years ago when I began this journey.
The book doesn’t release until next month, but it has gone to press and it has already earned two five-star reviews. I’m very excited to learn the reader reactions to the story. It is a departure from my previous six books. It is a futurist tale, it is not a romance, and for the first time, the protagonist is not gay. So I’m wondering if my readers will accept my new direction or will I need to build a new readership from scratch.
In the meantime, I get to hold and smell and read my new book. I love this feeling.