It’s been two weeks since haunted houses, coal mines, missing serial killers, and other nightmares have been on the menu with the release of The Book of Accidents, so I figured I’d talk a little about the book and where it’s at now.
This was not a book whose success I felt was sure — it’s a complicated, big-hearted horror book with a lot going on under the hood. And though my editor (the very wise Tricia Narwani) assured me it worked, I just had no way of really knowing. Balancing all those pieces together was tough. As I’ve noted in many of the talks and conversations I’ve given over the last few weeks, this was a book truly made in the edit (as many are). The first draft had all the bones and most of the meat, but subsequent drafts were an act of rewiring capillaries, neurons, sinew. A great editor sees what the author is attempting to do and helps cut the path in that direction — helping to bring the writer’s vision out so it becomes the very best version of that vision, and I certainly hoped that’s what happened here, but I really had no way of knowing.
Plus, I did the edits largely during the pandemic. The book was originally slated to come out in October 2020, and we ducked that date because of the election, not because of the pandemic (which at the time we still didn’t know about, but certainly would soon enough aahahahahaha aaahhh sob). So, that gave time to take it slow and steady with edits, and though I had a hella hard time writing new material during the first half of COVID-19, editing seemed to be the thing my brain could do. Something about getting lost in that tangle of threads. Something about the methodical task of picking out the BBs from the meat of a shot bird. I could focus on pacing, on cutting bits of tissue and then suturing, on making sure all the narrative connections were there, and made sense. It was hard, weird work, but I really enjoyed it.
Was it a book that would and could work? Was it a book that made sense to the time in which it was written, but also a book that works beyond that time? Is horror really a “market” again, and did people have an appetite for that type of horror novel that prevailed in the 80s and 90s, but decidedly colored with what’s going on now? I mean, again, there’s no way to tell. Writing a novel feels like painting in a wind tunnel — you have to hope that the mess that ensues is a happy, beautiful mess that says something to those who see it, and not… well, just a splatter of worthless color.
And this book is horror, which is both very much not new for me, since most of my books are in some way horror novels… but also, it is kinda new. This is my first official original horror novel. It’s a horror novel from snout to tail, from teeth to taint, and that’s a jump. I’ve already been fortunate enough not to establish a “””brand””” in one genre over another, which lets me stick and move a little more easily from story to story without worrying that my “””audience””” won’t follow me from, say, nine books of intense Cat Mysteries to a tenth book of Grimdark Portal Fantasy. (Remember, a brand is the thing a farmer burns into the ass of a cow to make sure everyone knows where it belongs.) I’m lucky enough to not have secured an early epic success in one direction, so I’m allowed the freedom a little more easy go in any direction I’d like.
Even so, I still worried — would this book work, would it connect, would people read it?
And so far, the answer seems to be… maybe, cautiously, yes?
So, while we did not hit the vaunted-and-often-indecipherable New York Times Bestseller List, the book did land on a few lists, if such a thing matters to you:
PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association)
ABA (National Indie Bestseller list)
So, that’s very gratifying to see! Thanks to readers, of course, and to booksellers, too, who supported the book and continue to share it with their book-hunting clients. Booksellers are magic, do not forget. Bibliomancers of the best and highest order. Librarians, too, share this magic, and thank you to all the libraries who have added this to their shelves.
“This is a full-blooded rural haunted house chiller with something for everyone…”
WCNC in Charlotte hosted Park Road Books, and they recommended the book (but pro-tip, everybody there — I went to school in Charlotte, to Queens, and so you should totally mention that because yay Charlotte?).
I’m chilling with with Brandy Schillace on Peculiar Book Club on August 12th at 7pm. It should be fun!
Aaaaand. Yeah. Yeah!
ANYWAY. That’s it, I think. At this point it’s mostly… out of my hands. I mean I’ll keep holding up the book and pointing to it, but me doing that is far less effective than you doing that. The book is all yours now. You adopted it. I hope you love it and it loves you and it doesn’t poop on the rug. Or something. I hope you’ll keep talking about it. I hope you can review it somewhere. I hope you buy a thousand copies and give them out at airports like the members of a religious cult.
I’ll see you soon with Dust & Grim. And I guess at some point I should write up the connections between those two books…
Point is, thank you. Thanks to Del Rey, to my agent, Stacia. To my in-conversation partners: Cassandra Khaw, Kiersten White, Delilah S. Dawson, Stephen Graham Jones, Paul Tremblay, Aaron Mahnke. And thanks to the bookstores that hosted: Boswell Books, The Strand, University Bookstore, Powells, Doylestown Bookshop, Midtown Scholar, Let’s Play Books, Fountain Bookstore.
NOW, I NAP.