This month for a book challenge group I belong to, the challenge was to see how many books of one author you can read in March. I am trying to read more of Lauren Myracle. Myracle, as you remember, is the author I wrote about when her book Shine was nominated for a National Book Award. Only it wasn't (Chime to Franny Billingsley was nominated) It was all very confusing and very odd, but I decided March could be Myracle month.
After I read her funny novel Eleven, I read a New York Times profile on her. Apparently she gets accused of being called the devil a lot. And she's Satan. This made me scratch my head. I come from the old school Catholic version of the devil: He has that black mustache and has that red deal going for him. But Myracle looks like a normal suburban mom you would see reading a Jodi Picoult novel in the car while waiting her turn in carpool. Plus I'm sorry, but I don't get it. Granted I need to read more of Myracle's book to make the decision that yeah, she's the devil, but all I've read so far are girls worrying about bras and friends. Oh, and teachers dating. I'm telling you, they're lowering the standards of hell these days.
I got my first mixed review the other day. I didn't mind it; in fact I liked the reviewer's honesty where she said she had mixed feelings about I Woke Up In Love This Morning, mostly because she wondered if she was that obnoxious at thirteen. I hate to break it to her, but yep. Thirteen is that age where you are allowed to be obnoxious. It's in the teenage handbook; it's that awful age where you are positive you are the ugliest person in the whole world. You will never get out of middle school. And oh yeah, you smell too. It's just awful, and you feel like you're the only person going through this. So yep, it's that obnoxious age. The reviewer went on to say that my characters were suburban white girls. Again, you got me. I have lived in the burbs most of my life. As John Cougar Melloncamp sang about small towns: "I cannot forget where it is that I came from/I cannot forget about the people who love me." That's me with the suburbs. I write about the towns where going to Lyon's was cool, everyone knew their business, but a trip to the City was minutes away. You could start over there. That's what I write about.
The white part-okay, she had me. Oddly though there are members of my family that are of mixed race. I try not to do the token deal in my writing: Look, here's an African American girl to keep things balanced! Yet in Ella Bella I dealt with jobs outsourced to India. I was worried about offending people when finally a friend said "Make one of the girls Indian." Well that's too easy. Simone Spier became Simone Murthy. Her mother is white, dad Indian. She has a British accent Ella envies, and her favorite T-shirt is Vincent Price and Kermit comparing fangs. She was great to write about, and I hope soon to not be so color blind.
The reviewer also said my characters were middle class. Not sure about that; I was middle class back in the day when it was possible to be middle class. It was my mother and me, and money was tight. But there was money for extras: movies, graduation announcements. One year I saved enough money from my library job to pay for a plane ticket for Hawaii for Spring Break. However I don't know what class I'm in now. Working class? Lower middle class? The class that always looks at the rich class and thinks it must be nice to be them? Jury is out. I was grateful for the review because I got where the reviewer was coming from. It was much better than the one star rating I got from a woman who looked like she could be someone's grandmother. I know my writing is not everyone's cup of tea, but what puzzled me is this woman didn't say why she didn't like the book. Plus she signed on specifically to give my little ebook one star. I wondered look, what did you object to? Teenage pregnancy? First periods? Breasts? Bo Derek? Give me something, lady! If I am the devil, I want to know! But I just have to live with one little star and not know why she didn't like it.
The past couple of days I felt like writing was pulling teeth: there's got to be an easier way to say what I feel and make a little bit of money. I ended up taking a nap. In the dream this girl appeared. She was eighteen, nineteen. She lived in an art deco apartment, right across the street from a library. She had a collection of Garfield stuffed animals. She had a boyfriend. She was going to a pizza place where she found out something. When I woke up, I wrote down what I rememembered. Some of it didn't make sense: for instance she had an opossum for a neighbor, and Different Strokes was on in the background, but who knows? It might come in handy someday. Or it can be used for evidence that like Lauren Myracle, I am the devil. Let me find my hooves and tail.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries