Monday, June 27, 2011

two more offspring


It's Monday, right?

I am not making much progress on the "and clean your room" assignment, and the family will be back from vacation in, like, three days.

That means I can do it on Wednesday.

So, this morning my UK friend tweeted me that she'd seen today's Publishers Weekly, and offered congratulations... and I was, like, oh... now I can finally say something about this stuff.

Here it is.

I have written (yes -- they are completely finished) two books that will be coming out from Simon & Schuster.

And that's not everything that I have going on right now, but I want to say a few little things about these books and this announcement.

First, I am very excited and nervous about working with David Gale at S&S. I'll admit it: I am afraid. Oh well, I'll get over it. I gave him some good stuff to play with.

Now, about the two books:

I guess a handful of people have read the first one. It's called Winger, and it's about a really smart kid named Ryan Dean (he's 14 and in eleventh grade -- something I kind of know a little about) who has a really tough time figuring things out (which is something else chillingly close to my heart).  And he plays rugby, too (Union -- the greatest game ever devised by human beings). There's a lot going on in Ryan Dean's world -- he's convinced the woman living downstairs is a monstrous witch, out to destroy his life (and she may be); he's desperately in love with a brilliant and independent-minded girl, but believes their age difference (she's actually 16 -- oooh!) makes her see him as some kind of "adorable" pet (and she probably does); and the guy Ryan Dean shares a dorm room with wants to kill him (definitely... he really wants to kill the kid). Oh... and he draws. So there are comics, diagrams, graphs, charts, an occasional haiku, transcribed telephone conversations, invisible iPods, and lots of other stuff that pop out of Ryan Dean's head and onto the pages of Winger -- which actually is funny, but it's sad and dark, too, because it takes a look at how desperately people sometimes want to fit in, when the rest of the world can only focus on the minute little elements that make outcasts of all of us.

Yeah... PW should have said that. But, they'd have to give up space for the description of the second book... which is called Once There Were Birds.

As far as I know, there is only one person in the universe who has read this book. So, basically, nobody knows much about it at all.

And there's kind of an interesting story behind it, too: I started writing Once There Were Birds as a short story for inclusion in that ill-fated anthology that I backed away from. I liked the story so much that I didn't want to cut it short, and I definitely didn't want to give it up to an anthology. So I turned it into a genre-bending kind of novel.

If I did a Hollywood one-line pitch on it (which I suck at), I'd probably say the novel is a Western, set in Arizona and California, 200 years in the future.

Here's a more precise description of Once There Were Birds:

Barrett Woods, a boxer from a prison school for boys called Oconee, makes a “break,” and jumps a picking train sent on scavenging missions. He’s followed by a determined and talkative younger boy named Eliot Plum, who is stubbornly determined to stick with Barrett, despite the dangers they encounter. But Eliot is hiding a secret from the boxer – he’s actually the son of a bounty hunter who’s been sent to collect on Barrett’s escape.

Eliot is trying to prove something – to himself and to his demanding father. The boys’ journey west is simultaneously dangerous and filled with wonders the two have never seen. But Eliot must contend with his increasing dilemma: As he gets farther away from his father, Eliot’s betrayal of Barrett is eclipsed by a tremendous bond of friendship. 

So, Once There Were Birds includes action, adventure, a coming-to-grips kind of story about love and friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, and there's a little post-apocalyptic sci-fi, a little (ugh) dystopia, a good bit of cowboy slang good-old-fashioned Western, and no small amount of steampunk thrown in, too.

Oh, and I forgot to mention there's a love story between the boxer and the daughter of a conniving, self-serving man who tries to trick the boys out of the things they value most.

I really wouldn't know what sub-genre to put this one in. It's just a good, exciting ride.

So there.

That's part of what's coming up from me.

You can read the deal announcement in Publishers Weekly here.