The robot book, which is now entitled The Winter of the Robots, is now off to copyediting (I think). And every time a book is “D&A” (as they say in the bidness), I get a little reflective, like a parent sending a child off to college. I might still dot a few i’s and unsplice a few commas, past this point, but the book is otherwise as good as its going to get. It’s up to the book to make its way in the world, and up to the world to give it a way to make.
If you liked my other books, you’ll like this one. The things I do well in my previous books, I do again: fully developed characters, dry one-liners, and tears when you least expect it. But if you found my previous books boring, this book won’t convert you. I’ve decided I’ll never be James Patterson or Rick Riordian or even Tom Angleberger. I’m not action-packed or a laugh riot. But I like my books, and they’re the kind of books I would have liked as a kid, and that’s the only rubric that really matters. (Not that I’ll be cranky if I ever hit the bestseller list like those guys.)
However, I am getting better with each try. This is the tightest book I’ve written, 80% the length of my three earlier novels. I credit my chapter books for refining my skills in that direction–that taught me to cut, whittle and whack. This is also the best plotted novel I’ve done. There isn’t a gun placed on the mantelpiece that isn’t fired later (BTW, there are no guns) (but there is “shooting,” by robots with lasers). I hope people re-read, to appreciate the clues planted in the early chapters that foretell the events of the later chapters.
Another difference, is that this book has the most action of any of my books. Missing kids, robot battles, and muscle cars on every page.
It’s not the first book with death, but it’s the first book where someone dies.
It’s not the first book with a crush–which is part of boyhood, despite the protests of some boys–but it has the most realized crush object in Rochelle (aka Rocky).
It’s the first book with a sister sibling, and she’s my favorite character.
Meanwhile, Jim is the most criminal of my heroes: he lies, cheats and steals. But he’s also the most loving. Maybe those two things go hand in hand. Everything he does, he does for other people. (Read it carefully, you’ll see it’s true.)
AND it has the happiest and least ambiguous ending.
I don’t know if it’ll be my breakout book, but I feel pretty good about it. You can decide next year when you read it yourself.