Remember the book I was working on in November for NaNoWriMo? It was a middle grade fantasy novel — the first such book I’ve done. I rewrote it in December, and then started a final pass through to clean things up for my agent and beta readers.
Once I had the rewrite and had fixed most of the first draft problems, I also began reading the book to my son each night. We’d get through a chapter, occasionally two, before he went to bed. I lay there with manuscript in one hand and the pen in the other, making notes about word repetition and unclear sentences and bits that just didn’t work.
I loved it. Reading aloud meant I was catching a lot of things I might have otherwise missed. And my son was enjoying it. He laughed at most of the jokes, especially when a character’s iPad autocorrects “prophecy” to “privy.” He got mad at the villains. We’d finish up chapters and he would guess what was going to happen next, or yell at the protagonist, “Don’t do that, it’s a trap!” Toward the end, as everything came together for the big confrontation and climax, he was literally bouncing at times.
I asked him afterward who his favorite characters were. He chose Gulk and Mac. Gulk is one of the goblins. (Note: this is not a continuation of the Jig the Goblin series…but these goblins have some similarities to Jig’s kinfolk.) I wasn’t too surprised there. I’m rather fond of my goblins too.
Mac is the protagonist’s 14-year-old brother. He’s autistic and nonverbal, and is one of three characters running around on this adventure and doing the whole “Save the World!” thing. I asked my son why he chose Mac as a favorite.
“Because he’s like me.”
I don’t know what will happen with this book, but I’m doubtful anything will top that experience. I’m sure my portrayal of Mac is flawed, but I wrote him well enough for my son to recognize him. Likewise, the book will certainly get edits to make it stronger, but it was strong enough to keep my son enthralled night after night. And he gets to be the first person to hear the story of Tamora and Mac Carter.
Some days, writing can be frustrating and discouraging. But thanks in part to experiences like this, I really, really love what I do.