I’m not crazy about talking about what I’m working on, but since people have been nice enough to be interested, I’ll tell you that mayyyyybe I’m working on a third book in this series, and mayyyyybe this one is Tommy’s story. Maybe. The cause for my reticence:
What if I promise it will be this fabulously funny book, and it ends up being a miserable tear-jerker?
What if I finish the thing, and it stinks so bad you have to open a window?
What if I can’t even finish it?
And what if I say I’ll write a book about Tommy, and I end up writing a book about somebody else?
I’ve also found that if you talk about a project enough—the need to write it withers.
So I only talk to the dog.
The bad thing in all this is, I should definitely have another book lined up and ready to go by now, but I don’t.
The first two books came to me in fairly quick succession. After I’d placed them with Kensington, I intended to move on and start working on a third—but the process of getting a book to publication, which was entirely new to me, kept getting in the way. And I got to go through it twice.
After turning in a final draft on the second book, I took a breath—and the first book came back from the copy editors. How exciting is that! Well, it turned out it was exciting and extraordinarily frustrating. When somebody starts to tell you where to put the commas you’ve very carefully placed…grrr. I spent two weeks putting things back and leaving increasingly rude comments in the margin for the copy editor. (“If I wanted a semicolon there, I’d have put one there, you toad.”) I made my changes, did some rewrites, added some new material (because that’s what I do) and as soon as I’d sent it off—there was the second book back from the copy editors.
Same story, hit ‘send,’ and there in my in-box was the galley of the first book.
Also incredibly exciting. Now, I have to make clear, in case you don’t already know this (I didn’t), galley proofs are for corrections, not rewrites. This was explained to me repeatedly. I was expressly forbidden to make any changes to the text. Only corrections.
The thing is, I can’t stop myself—and the way I see it, if I make an edit, and that sentence is now better than it was because of that edit, isn’t that a kind of ‘correction,’ really?
I managed to slip some rewrites in anyway, and I dutifully turned in my marked-up galley.
Of course as soon as I sent it back…you see where this is going.
At each of these steps I would manage to make myself completely crazy with worry. What if I left something out that I shouldn’t have? What if I left something in? What if I think of a brilliant joke a week after the book has been published? (Which of course happened.) And each of these steps required at least one all-nighter.
Crazy or not, I’m glad I did all of that last-minute polishing.
For example, in the last round of edits on And the Next Thing You Know…, Enrique showed up in Jeff’s office to help with his left-handed mouse; and Theo, at brunch with Madison, turned to the neighboring tables to pull them into the conversation. Both new scenes turned out to be pretty funny, but they weren’t there until very late in the process.
This is my long and rambling excuse for not having a third book in the bag by now.
So. Maybe a book about Tommy. And here’s a secret for you:
Tommy is a crutch.
When I started writing the first book, I was utterly surprised when Tommy showed up, how specific his voice was, how he took over, and how funny he was without really trying.
When I started the second book, I didn’t really think I was going to be able to do it, so I dragged Tommy along. I knew if nothing else worked, Tommy would be funny. Tommy even had to change law firms, just so I could keep him around. And his reward? His own book.
We all know what happens to protagonists—they get put through hell. A happy ending has to be earned. It’s a rule.
That is, if I write a book about Tommy.