Three years ago as of this week, the novel I’d consider the “Book of My Heart” was published. On Saturday, June 14, when Imaginary Girls is officially three years old, I will tell you all why it connects so deeply to me and why I’d consider it the book of my heart apart from all books I’ve written or will write. I’ll also hold a giveaway for some elusive hardcovers!
So what is a book of an author’s heart, you may ask—and why say such a thing about one book and not others, when we love all our books and put pieces of ourselves into every one? I’ve asked a few author friends to share the book that holds a distinct and special place in their heart and tell us why.
Here is Dahlia Adler revealing that her first book, Behind the Scenes, out this month, may not be the “book of her heart,” but we will soon get to read the one that is…
Guest post by Dahlia Adler
This month, I release my very first book. It’s called Behind the Scenes, and it’s fun and sexy and I’m thrilled it’s going out into the world. I worked hard on it, and I love it, and I hope readers will too. But there’s a truth behind it that I don’t talk about very much, and that’s this:
I would never have written it if I hadn’t had to shelve the book of my heart.
For most of my adolescence, I’d worked on a series of books set in one particular world, but then, about five years ago, I got an idea for something completely new. It started with a character’s name and something that’d happened to me in college and swirled out from there until it took on a life of its own. Then I got an opportunity to take a class on writing YA, and I took it as the ultimate sign that this book was meant to be.
I’d been writing for years, but this time, I was falling in a deep and true love I’d never felt before. I loved and related to my main character, with all her quirks and flaws and sense of humor. I loved the secondary characters, who made me laugh and challenged my comfort zone. I loved the love interest, who was so much more than that, and the way it was sort of a slow, tentative burn into the brightest, steadiest of flames. And I loved that I continued thinking about the characters and what was happening in their stories long after the end.
In nearly twenty years of writing, I’d always been reticent about sharing my work, but this time I happily threw it all over the place—to classmates, to friends…dear reader, I queried. Seriously. And I got a lot of requests, too! Such encouragement! Such love! People were going to adore my characters and story as much as I did!
Until they didn’t. Sure, they found things to love, but ultimately, it just wasn’t the right fit for any agents. And it took about fifty rejections until I got the one that made clear why:
The pacing was awful. The tone was completely uneven. The book was entertaining, sure, but it was like two different books crammed into one. It didn’t matter if people thought it was funny or romantic or thought-provoking—from a writing perspective, it was kind of a disaster.
So I shelved it. And I determined I would write a plot-driven, well-paced YA, one where I didn’t get so lost in my love for the characters that I was blinded to structure flaws.
That book goes on sale in two weeks.
Since then, I’ve written many more books, but the characters of that first book—the book of my heart—have never left me. And even the story—that flawed, oddly paced story—still pulls me back. So when my editor, who’s also a friend with whom I happen to share reading taste, asked me for something fun to read one day, I actually thought to say, “Well, I do have this one thing you can read for fun that I think you’ll like…”
And she did. She fell head over heels for the characters the same way I did, and thought about them long after the end. The difference was, she had magic words at the end of that process: “If you want this to be your Book 3 [of your 3-book deal], I am totally cool with that.”
Just like that, the book of my heart had a pulse again for the first time in three years. And it’ll take a lot of work to get it to where it needs to be, but I can’t imagine work more worth doing. It’s like I’m going to get to introduce the world to my first love. And though with a release date of November 17, 2015, it’ll be my third impression on the world rather than my first, I hope it’ll charm its way into the hearts of both people who’ve read Behind the Scenes and Under the Lights and people who haven’t.
But the beauty of having a book of your heart is this:
When it comes down to it, it doesn’t even really and truly matter how much other people love it. Because when you write that book that lives on inside you no matter its publication fate; the book whose characters are practically family and whose setting feels so real to you that you can close your eyes and transport there in an instant; that book you love so much, that years later you’re still throwing it at people to read, and unknowingly saving its life in the process—you remember exactly why you do this in the first place. And there’s just nothing better than that.
Dahlia Adler is an Assistant Editor of Mathematics by day, a Copy Editor by night, and a YA author and blogger at every spare moment in between. You can find her on Twitter at @MissDahlELama, and blogging at The Daily Dahlia, YA Misfits, and Barnes & Noble. She lives in New York City with her husband and their overstuffed bookshelves. Behind the Scenes is her debut novel.
The posts in the Book of Your Heart series:
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Camille DeAngelis
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Tessa Gratton
- The Book of Your Heart Series: Brandy Colbert
Come back tomorrow for another Book of Your Heart guest blog! And look for the giveaway of Imaginary Girls on Saturday, June 14!