What happens when you get two book ideas at the same time? Until this fall, I would have worked on one and put the other on the back burner, but when one idea inspires you and you’re facing a self-imposed deadline for the other, you don’t have that option. Besides, when one book is fiction and the other nonfiction, each tends to provide a nice break from the other.
So, over the course of the past six weeks or so, I wrote them both, which explains why I released The Only Dragon and Please Stop Saying That! within a couple of weeks of each other.
The Only Dragon: The Legend of Tara
In point of fact, both ideas inspired me, but under normal circumstances, I probably would have put off The Only Dragon had I not decided I wanted to release it in time for the local Dragon Festival, which was fast approaching. I’d been fascinated by dragons since my parents bought me a stuffed snake (which I insisted was a dragon) as a toddler, and I had wanted to write a dragon story for years.
Finally, I had a good excuse. I would create a fable that explained why the dragon is known the world over, how she – in my book, she’s a girl – came to breathe fire and why the dragon is revered in the east as a symbol of good luck and reviled in the west as a fearsome, demonic creature. I’d throw in a pair of noble wizards, a couple of power-hungry kings, a mysterious goddess-like character and a snarky gray tabby for good measure.
(Coincidentally, I just adopted a gray tabby myself. The vet told me she was male, so I named her Ragnar, only to have the vet reverse herself six weeks later; so, now she’s Khaleesi – Kiki for short.)
Most authors don’t write fables these days, but I love the genre, and it’s something I enjoy writing (see The Way of the Phoenix, Feathercap and some of the stories in Nightmare’s Eve). It offers a poetic way to examine the world around us and what makes us human.
Please Stop Saying That!
Please Stop Saying That! is an old idea, as well. It’s a riff on something I did as news editor at The Fresno Bee: I created a local stylebook that included examples of jargon, clichés and buzzwords to avoid when writing stories. It was a serious endeavor, but in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but laugh at how silly and, sometimes, meaningless they sounded; about how we’d use them without even thinking because they were so deeply ingrained in ourselves and our culture.
Now that I’m no longer a working journalist, I can let some of that sarcasm out, and that’s what PSST! allowed me to do. There’s something in there to offend almost everyone if it’s taken seriously, but it’s not meant to be taken seriously, so please don’t (except for a few jabs at bullying and bigotry, which ought to be condemned whether you’re using humor or not). I toyed with the idea of calling it Think Before You Speak, but I liked PSST! better, in part because it sounded cool as an abbreviation.
Psst. I think you’ll like both these books, the fifth and sixth I’ve released this year. That’s a record for me, and I’m proud of it, but I’m not stopping now. I’ve got plenty of ideas waiting in the wings, and more time than ever before to explore them as a full-time author. This is the life!