Cold Kiss is a baby I didn’t plan.
It feels that way, anyway. One night, one random remark, a little bit of wine, and bam – conception.
I wasn’t entirely unprepared. I’d written books before, and published before, and even worked on the other side of the desk for years, wearing a couple of different hats (editorial assistant, freelance copy editor, freelance copywriter, acquiring editor). And that gave me perspective about the road to publication that a lot of authors don’t have when they’re first starting out.
Coming from it at that angle, Cold Kiss seemed like a bad idea. A book destined to be the troubled child who would never move out, and steal my lipsticks and find my hidden stash of chocolate, and finally run off with some snarling guy on a motorcycle just to break my heart into even tinier pieces.
Here were the things stacked against me, as I saw it.
1) I’d only written for children or teens in limited ways, on both occasions under a different name.
2) One of those occasions was a ghostwriting gig, which sort of doesn’t count. Ghostwriting is all about imitating someone else’s voice, and writing his or her idea, not your own.
3) I’d written a couple of fairly steamy contemporary romances. Would YA publishers want anything to do with me?
4) Cold Kiss is weird! Come on, there’s a zombie. And not exactly your traditional happy ending, either.
But my fantastic agent, Maureen, thought we could give it a try. No promises, she said. Especially no promises I could sell it on proposal (rather than a completed manuscript). I went back to brainstorming a few romance ideas and taking freelance work, wondering what would happen, but not counting any chickens. Not even looking at chickens. We were a chicken-free household there for a while.
Boy, was I surprised. I’ve never been so glad to be wrong in my life.
There’s a lesson in that. I was writing a book I desperately wanted to write. A book I talked about so often and in so much depth, everyone I knew was probably desperate for me to write it, too, just so I would shut up.
Young adult fiction was my first love. The first novel I ever completed is one of those highly autobiographical, highly embarrassing efforts that will live forever in a box under my bed. Children’s and young adult books are some of my all-time favorites, and some of the books that resonated deepest with me when I was growing up. YA is what I’ve always wanted to write, and Wren’s story was one that crystallized a lot of growing up for me (even though I did not ever bring a boyfriend back to life, thank goodness). I felt it in ways I’d never felt the romances I’d written, as much I love them.
Did that make a difference when it came time to submit it? I think so. Or maybe I’d just like to think so – it’s hard to tell. But I’ll always believe that writing from your heart makes a difference. If you believe in the story you’re telling, your voice will be stronger, your characters will be quicker to come to life, and all of that does make a difference to anyone reading it.
And now, after two years that passed much more quickly than I expected, Cold Kiss is actually out in the world. So I’m a proud mom, and I don’t even have to hide my chocolate.