I feel pretty lucky that part of my job as a writer is to be a voracious reader. I have also deemed it part of my writer life to support and celebrate other writers, both with words and with sales. Books are my favorite things to buy and my favorite gifts to receive.
I've started sending legit fan mail to the writers I most admire, telling them what I love about their work, telling them that I will pick up anything they write without even knowing what it is about (preferably not knowing - I love surprises) because I am that confident that it will be amazing. And I'm always right. That's just how good they are.
I used to live in a paradigm of lack - where if you got published it meant my chance of getting published was somehow diminished. As though there aren't thousands of books published every year. It feels so much better to me to flip the script on this, to see every debut author as evidence for me that my dream is also possible.
So I was in our local bookstore, The Briar Patch, this summer picking up a book and talking about publishing with the owner, Gibran. He mentioned a local author whose book was schedule for release in September. Katie Lattari. Not self-published, but real-deal published.
We live in a relatively small community (I live in a town outside of Bangor, Maine - population 32,000) but I had not heard her name. I contacted my besties, who between the two of them always seem know everyone in the area. Or so I thought. They didn't know her either.
I found Katie's website. She had written about her journey to publication in a series of blog posts and I gobbled them up, brimming with questions. Then I did the only logical thing I knew to do. I emailed her. You know, the usual stranger email: hi, I'm a local writer too. Can we be friends?
God love, Katie. She was willing to chat with me, answer my questions, share more about her journey and her process. (You know you're a writer when you are literally giddy to talk shop with another writer. Even better to have someone who lives nearby!)
I liked her immediately. And then I read her book and Katie blew me away.
HOT DAMN you have to read this book.
First there's the plot - a dual time line (my favorite and what I like to write), multiple narrators, gripping suspense. From page one, there is no doubt you are in the hands of a master. I challenge you to put it down. I finished it in an everyone-leave-me-alone sort of fever.
Second (but first in my heart) - the WRITING. Oh good god, Katie can write. Her skill with language is the kind that could make another writer feel utterly dwarfed except that you're too busy admiring it (and you've worked really hard to celebrate good writing and release the belief that talent is a limited resource. See above.) In places, the prose reads like poetry, raw and lean and stunning. The novel takes place in Maine and Katie manages to take a landscape I know and love and overlay it with a visceral haunting, the beautiful turning dark and menacing under her skillful wordsmithing.
I don't read a ton of psychological thrillers (sensitive soul trying to find her way in an already uncertain world), but aren't they fun? I can't handle horror and this book isn't at all like that. It's a mind game, a twisty-turny escapade of deception, revenge and the penalties of the past, all centered around the theme of art and inspiration and the cost of creating both.
I feel like a total winner here. I got to read a fantastic book, witness the launch of what is sure to be a promising career and garner a new writer friend.
Huge congrats to Katie for having the courage to keep going, through all the rewrites and the blood, sweat and tears to get to the point where I can hold her book in my hands and feel like it is an effortless work of genius.
Thanks Gibran for connecting us and for being the place I can get any book I want. Thanks for supporting writers and readers and for being my favorite book sanctuary. (And if you ever come in one morning and find me curled up in a sleeping bag beside your fiction shelf, don't worry. Chances are good I have warm coffee and banana bread for you.)
So go buy her book from your local bookstore, okay?