Sunday, November 29, 2009
I Have OCD...Do You?
I've had several good laughs this week, and the funny thing is, they've all come from people who love Sammy Keyes. They laughs have come from the sack of physical fan mail (that I'm finally sorting through and answering), from e-mails at the Exercise the Right to Read mailbox, and from comments made to postings at this blog. They've been good laughs. Really make-my-day laughs. I think my favorite from this week is, "I have OCD!" -- Obsessive Casey (or, I suspect, Cammy) Disorder. How funny is that! When I read it, I actually ran across the house and interrupted my son (who went as "Casey" last Halloween) and his girlfriend (who went as "Sammy" last Halloween) with the news. Yeah, it can be embarrassing having me as a mom... Anyway, I guess the thing about being a productive author is that you spend much of your time alone. Or really, alone with your characters. So what happens is, the characters you create become real to you, and when you discuss them with others you find yourself having to explain to peripheral listeners that no, it wasn't an actual person who cemented a gangster's tush into a wheelbarrow--it was Sammy Keyes. Now, that's what you tell them, but in your head, she really did it. In your head, Casey and Billy and Heather and Grams and Hudson and Marissa and Dot and Holly and Mikey and Officer Borsch and everybody really exists. It all sounds a bit mad, I know, so generally I don't let on about this in public. But when I get mail from readers and they are SO excited about developments in the series, it makes me feel good--like I'm not alone in my madness. The letters are physical proof that I'm not the only one who cares who Sammy's dad is. I'm not the only one who wonders if Billy has a secret crush on Sammy. I'm not the only one who wants Casey to be the prince we think he is...despite Sammy's heart wrenching suspicions that he may not be. And I'm not the only one who'd like to see Heather doused...even though there's still a lot of gasoline left near her fire. I am, though, perhaps the only person who doesn't wonder how it all will end. I know what the last book will be and how it will tie everything together. I can't wait to get to it, because it's going to be unique and surprising and...well, good. But I have to pace myself to it. Sometimes I feel like Sammy Keyes is the dark horse in the Series Races. I see other series gallop ahead, but I just remind myself as they burn brightly and then fade that I'm in this for the long haul. And I have confidence in the long haul because I know that my "fans" are individuals. They're not followers. Sammy Keyes is not the flavor of the month to them. They're in it for the long haul, just like me. I'm thirteen books done--about two-thirds of the way there. And instead of being tired or burned out, I feel like I'm just hitting my stride. That I can do this and that I will finish strong. Part of that is that my love for Sammy continues to grow. Part of that is that I get letters and messages from people who love her too. If you're one of them, know that you're like a tailwind. I feel you at my back, and I'm grateful that you're there.