With Cheer set to be published very soon, I thought I’d provide some background on how I came to write the story.
When I was in college, a friend offhandedly told me something that made my ears prick up. Now that, I thought, would make a great novel. And the idea never left me. It just brewed and steeped for (I’m dating myself here) decades. In the meantime, I wrote two other novels. One was a romance novel that was downright terrible. Really, it sucked. The second was a mystery novel, which was…decent. I even had an agent show some interest, provided I made some revisions. I put those revisions aside to have a couple of babies. When I finally had time to pick the mystery novel back up, the technology used to solve the story’s central mystery had become completely outdated. I decided to ditch it.
Throughout all of this, that idea I’d had since college remained in my brain. I wrote a few chapters and put it aside. Then I read a book that was all the rage. Hey, if there’s a book bandwagon, I’ll jump on it. So I decided to read this obscenely popular book too. I won’t name names but it’s part of a series, has a black cover, was the inspiration for some movies…and it was seriously the biggest piece of dreck I’d read in a long time. I couldn’t believe the book, which I could barely finish, had gotten so much traction. It inspired me to pull out those initial chapters of what would become Cheer and see how I stacked up. I read them and thought, “Huh, this doesn’t suck.” Trust me, this is actually quite high self-praise for a writer! I decided to write a few more chapters.
Around that same time, I chatted with a friend, who told me about a conversation she’d had with her husband, whose relative had recently died at a young age. She and her husband had discussed what they’d regret not having done if they were similarly to die so young. My friend told her husband that she’d regret not having a family dog for their children to grow up with. In that moment, her husband agreed to a dog. (We actually had this conversation while her new puppy was playing with my dog in the backyard…)
That exchange with my friend got me thinking: what would I regret not having done? My instant response was, “Publishing a novel.” Writing a book is something that I have always wanted to do (more on that in a future post) and after considering that long-held goal in sweeping life/regret terms, I got busy writing Cheer in earnest. Many (!) months later, I’m about to publish it.
I’m eager to see if the story of Cheer sticks with readers the way it has stuck with me for many, many years.