My new book, Meeting Margo, is now available in both print and ebook form (PDF or Kindle).
A prequel to my coming-of-age novels You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, Meeting Margo tells the story of how seven-year-old Brian Pressley met and became best friends with Quebecoise tomboy Margo LeDoux.
ABOUT THE BOOK (from the foreword):
My first two novels, You Don’t Think She Is and Meeting Dennis Wilson, were the most public products of over a decade of writing and drafting through my characters’ collective storyline. (There was also a short story collection entitled What’s With Her? and my Goddard College creative writing MFA thesis, Sad Sweet Dreamer). Most of this writing was embodied in a ridiculously sprawling three-binder “novel” entitled The Little Girl I Once Knew.
This mass of story was my writer’s workshop: I basically learned to write a novel by drafting out The Little Girl I Once Knew, and, through rewrite and revision and paring, seeing what didn’t work. As a result, I not only had a clear sense of the characters’ personality and history for future works, but I accumulated an abundance of material. A lot of it got incorporated into You Don’t Think She Is; some of it, I mined for short stories (collected in What’s With Her?); some of it, I alluded to in Meeting Dennis Wilson.
But for as much material as I adapted or alluded to, there was even more material that I didn’t use. It wasn’t inferior by any means; some of just didn’t fit my developing sense of who the characters were, while other pieces either didn’t work when trimmed to story length, or didn’t fit into a larger work. (Plot? What plot?)
A lot of this material was about the characters’ early childhood– those first couple years after Margo and Brian met, culminating in the vignette where Brian and Christy “stripped and spun” in their cornfield fort. These rejected chapters give depth to the characters’ personalities, relationships, and history. Any time I read this stuff, I felt like I wanted to get it out there, but under what pretense? I wanted to create NEW works, not revisit old works.
But then two things happened. First, in drafting my third novel, Switch, I started going back to the older unpublished stuff for material that I could mine or allude to in the new work. And then second, as my two novels gained readers, many of them told me the same thing that an early reader of Meeting Dennis Wilson told me: that she hated to see the book end, and she “missed the characters.”
With this in mind, I re-read the first several chapters of The Little Girl I Once Knew, and decided that it’d make a great standalone book. And that’s what this is: the story of my characters’ meeting. There’s no pretense of plot or significance; as with most of my writing, the characters and their love for each other is the story. Some of what’s here might be familiar to readers of You Don’t Think She Is or Meeting Dennis Wilson because it’s either been alluded to or adapted for those books. (Example: I revised the opening chapter about the first day of school in 1967 for You Don’t Think She Is, changing the point of view so that Brian was writing not as a middle-aged man looking back, as he is here, but as a high school student recalling the episode as an exercise for a high school creative writing class.) I hope the repetition isn’t annoying.
With this novella, the story of my characters’ meeting and shared history is now “out there.” I doubt this will prevent me from alluding to or adapting this material in future works, but at least with Meeting Margo published, you won’t need to wonder what I’m talking about or ask to see more.