I love my book My Big Heart-Shaped Fail. It epitomizes the way I want to write. Inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it’s a highly snackable, fun, funny, fast-paced tween comedy-of-errors that chronicles one cringe-worthy day in Abby Gray’s life.
Given all that, I have pangs of guilt about this book.
Not because of the writing, but because of the horrible things I did to Abby Gray.
Let me explain… I created a likable who does some unlikable things (she lies to her friends and keeps secrets from them) for a good reason (she fears she’s losing them). I worried that doing these things would make her an unlikable character, but the things she does are so utterly relatable, it made me like her more. But, then I did a terrible thing: I made everything in her world go wrong.
The dread comes at Abby rapid-fire over the course of one day. The story is time-stamped, in the style of the TV show 24 — the tension increases and the stakes rise every hour. The clock is ticking for Abby to straighten out the ripples of chaos her actions caused.
The book is supported by a colorful cast of characters, both kids and adults. And all the unnecessary fat is trimmed, so every detail is significant to the conclusion. It’s a very fast read.
Anytime I finish a book I’m left wondering, will readers like it? I relate to Abby, but will they? Reading is very subjective. I’ve disliked New York Times best sellers. Not because the books weren’t good, but because they weren’t for my taste or my mood on that particular day. It’s reasonable not everyone will like my work, but that doesn’t mean its feel good when it happens.
I try to stay away from reviews in the same way I try to stay away from chocolate. I sneak some. (In the case of chocolate, maybe more than some.) Overall, the reviews have been very positive. (Phew.) My favorite so far is from a reader who said she read it in one sitting.
So, maybe making everything go wrong for my main character wasn’t so bad after all.