As Shakespeare wrote, "The course of true love never did run smooth." Neither does the path to publication!
After my second novel was safely in the Random House pipeline, my agent Linda Pratt began shopping around my third novel––which we believed was "high concept." To my shock and dismay, my editor didn't want it. Neither did anyone else. I panicked. I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I had figured this writing thing out. Clearly I hadn't. And now I didn't know what to write next.
I kept rereading some chapters I had written in 2009 about a parrot who flew into the bedroom of a sick girl. I wrote a little more--and put it away. If I couldn't sell my high-concept book, who would want a story about a girl and a parrot?
I started calling it the Forbidden Project. I hoped a better idea would come along. But like many forbidden things, it tantalized.
So I wrote the novel.
Linda fell in love with it and sent it out to editors. Liz Szabla read it in the fall of 2011. She was interested, but she wanted to discuss changes. We had a wonderful conversation about her vision for the book. I sensed that my parrot had captivated her too. Would I be willing to make the girl older? Would I get rid of her dolls? Would I add more adventures with other birds? Would I? Of course! I tried not to sound completely desperate, but I would have done just about anything to let my Forbidden Project have a life.
In October 2013, The Desperate Adventures of Zeno & Alya was published by Feiwel and Friends. Liz and I worked together on my next novel, The Book of Dares for Lost Friends--coming in July 2015.
As I rewrite my next novel, I no longer have the illusion that I know what I'm doing. I figure it out as I go along. But I do know that everyone who writes must persist. And, even more importantly, write the characters and the stories who just won't let go.