Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New blurb, New York

It's fun to see what readers are making of For the May Queen.

One blurb came in yesterday that refers to a book I must have read 10 times in high school:

“In the tumultuous way of Go Ask Alice, so Kate Evans captures the nightmarish chaos of a young woman’s attempt to find her way amid too much freedom, too much sex and too many drugs. Laced with the kind of astute detail that drops readers into that fateful freshman year of college, this story examines the hard choices that can make or break a spirit.” — Martha Engber, Growing Great Characters From the Ground Up

I like the idea that the book is about "choices that can make or break a spirit." It's cool how when others read your work they articulate things about it that you might not be able to yourself.

Go Ask Alice is basically a book of fiction posing as a memoir. I've always enjoyed reading fiction that reads like a memoir, so I'm pleased that Martha highlighted the memoir quality of my novel. Go Ask Alice is considered a classic coming-of-age novel, in the vein of Catcher in the Rye and, more recently, Prep.

The latter novel, especially, is considered a "cross-over novel"; I've seen it shelved in both the Young Adult and Adult Fiction sections of libraries and book stores. When For the May Queen was being circulated by my agent, several editors objected to the sense that the novel was, in a way, both an Adult and a Young Adult novel. Tell that to the author, editor and publisher of Prep--which in its cross-over status became a best-seller and a New York Times Notable Book.

Yes, Prep is well-written. But I think one reason it got so much attention in New York because it's an East Coast novel. Mine takes place in California--at a state university no less, not a prestigious prep school. I have a friend whose first novel was published by a major New York publisher. His second novel, a historical set in California, was rejected by them. He told me he'll work on getting it published by a "West Coast press" while writing something that the New York publishers will take. I found that disconcerting, but he was very Zen about it. He said if you want to play in New York, you have to go by their rules. That's still stuck in my craw a bit, even though I know he's right.
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