I am currently doing a thing I’d said I’d never do. VERY currently. RIGHT THIS SECOND I was doing it, and I paused to come here and tell you I was doing it, and as soon as finish telling you I am going to go right back and do it some MORE.
Best Beloveds, I am writing a sequel.
I always said I wouldn’t EVER write a true sequel because, look, I write rowdy books. I shoot people, I drown them, I smash in their heads. If you are my character, you may not make it out of Chapter 1.
And if you do? You are not going to skip lightly through a meadowy-sunshine-landscape of mild troubles and soft dilemmas. If you are my character, your greatest challenge in a chapter will never be, I have lost my keys and it is time for carpool! Your largest looming question will not be, The chemicals in Sweet and Low? Or the blood-spiking calories of SUGAR?
You are going to careen across the country with a gun and a dog, or a gun and your best friend, or bloody hands and a man your family is never going to accept, or your terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible sister. Towns will burn and awful dogs will eat up half your kindly auntie.
I feel, if you are my character, and you make it ALL THE WAY TO THE END—not unscathed, never unchanged— but to the end, then you have EARNED a rest. I promise I will leave you in a place of hope. Perfectly happy? Tidy? Sorry, no. But I bring you to a breathing place. You, my character who lived, I love you, and I will not re-set you on whole new fire and leave you flopping in agony on the last page.
If you make it, bloody and changed but whole in some new way, I feel it would be MORALLY REPULSIVE to come back to you and say, “And NOW! I set your life on fire…AGAIN! BWAHAHAHHAHAHAHHAHA.”
And I would have to. I am not going to write a book wherein people walk the dog and learn to beer-grill chicken and go to see their kid play the second Scottish guy on the right in Brigadoon. That is an EXCELLENT life. It is a TERRIBLE BOOK. SO I have sworn not to sequel, and I never have. Even my linked books (gods and Saints) are not SEQUELS. They take place over the same span of time, with the main characters and the plots crossing paths in three small, identical scenes.
But now? I am writing one. Sort of…
Part of it is because I am not ready to let go of the book you see below you yet. (LOOK, HERE IT IS, and it is coming THIS YEAR, near the end, so get it on your Christmas lists please.)
This book above is FINISHED, so it is not the book I am writing NOW. It is not the sequel to anything, but it is, quite frankly, the best book I am capable of writing. Maybe that won’t be true ten years from now, but it is true now. It is a departure for me, but not one so huge that I think it will be spooky or off-putting to people who like my books. I love it wholly.
It has two narrators. One, Shandi, is VERY much one of “my” narrators. She’s a rural, blue color, Southern person of imperfect past and uncertain future. I think Shandi is the way in, for my readership, because the other narrator was the toughest thing I ever wrote, tougher even than Liza, the stroke victim in A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY who narrated part of the story even though she’d lost all facility for language.
I’ve been wanting to write about William Ashe for YEARS now. (Yes, him, ya’ll. A male narrator.) He is a brilliant geneticist, and atheist, and an Aspie. They meet – Well, wait – look.
I want you to read the jacket copy, which I did not write, because the woman who wrote it GOT what I was trying to do. It begins with Shandi’s actual first lines…
I fell in love with William Ashe at gunpoint, in a Circle K.
It was on a Friday afternoon at the tail end of a Georgia summer so ungodly hot the air felt like it had all been boiled red. We were both staring down the barrel of an ancient, creaky .32 that could kill us just as dead as a really nice gun could.
I thought then I had landed in my own worst dream, not a love story.
But there we were, William gone still as a pond rock, me holding a green glass bottle of Coca-Cola and shaking so hard it was like a seizure. Both of us were caught under the black eye of that pistol. And yet, seventeen seconds later, before I so much as knew his name, I’d fallen dizzy-down in love with him.
At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Christian mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.
Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his world. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.
Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, making choices that will reveal unexpected truths about love, life, and the world they think they know.
Someone Else’s Love Story is Joshilyn Jackson’s funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.
EH? EHHH? Whatcha think????
BAH lookit, almost carpool time, and I have yet to walk the dogs or decide between sweet-n-low and sugar…I’ll explain why I am sequelling tomorrow; I have blathered on endlessly and I need to get back to doing the thing I said that I would never, never do.
This is why we never say never, I ‘spose. But I feel like it is not just me…What have you found yourself doing that you once said you truly, super-wouldn’t?