I’ve learned a lot since I started writing a dozen years ago. I’ve learned about craft, character, structure. How to develop a story with emotional impact. I went from writing highly complex multi point of view fantasy, to thrillers, to first person stories from the heart. You won’t recognize my writing from book 1 to book whatever-number-this-is. I think that’s a good thing.
I’ve been lucky not to have had a traditional publisher. Why? Because I think I would have kept writing more of the same. That’s what publishers want from a writer. To build a brand in a genre and an age group. That’s what readers want too! They want a book they’ll pick up and they’ll KNOW they’re going to love it. You can’t say that about my body of work. It’s all very different. Or most of it. I think we could group Assured Destruction with Counting Wolves, Ray Vs the Meaning of Life and the one I’m currently working on, Heart Sister. I believe I’m ready for a traditional publisher now. I think I know what I want to write.
But Ray Vs the Meaning of Life beats the others I think for two reasons. Humour and theme.
I’ve never considered myself a humour writer. Or even a funny guy. But I can write kooky characters when I need to. Which brings me to theme. When you pick a difficult theme like say anxiety, fear, or organ transplantation, you need humour to provide balance. So the darker and bigger the theme, the more humour you need to carry it. The challenge grows with the weight of the story.
The opposite of a meaningful life is a meaningless one. That’s terrifying. And meaty. So it requires a great deal of humour. Getting this balance write in Ray was the biggest trick of my writing to date.
If you can nail delivering on a big theme, it can deliver a big impact. Generally speaking, I have a sense a book is going well if I’m crying when I read it (for the 10th time!). A happy cry. Usually at the ending, and a few teary parts in between. I cried a lot with Ray Vs the Meaning of Life.
I hope you enjoy it.