It’s been one year since Memphis Rook burst onto the scene and saved Hogarth Dawson from a mugging. That itty bitty novella, called Pawn Takes Rook, introduced readers to the world of Axis City, its superheroic inhabitants, and a crapton of pop-culture references.
To say it changed my life would actually be a lie. To say it saved my life would be closer to the truth.
I had tried to break in as a writer for years. By the law of averages, my time of knocking on doors was by far shorter than many international bestsellers. I had submitted to Dreamspinner Press twice before–one a novel, and one an anthology story. They had always been on my short list of people I wanted to write for. And Dreamspinner had the honor of giving me my very first rejection. I was so elated because getting the first rejection meant it was official. You were a real writer. I framed it and it’s hanging on my wall to this day.
It was with Pawn Takes Rook, it had the magic seasonings that Dreamspinner found tasty and here I am.
I got the acceptance on Election Day 2012, and the timing was so profound in ways I could never put into words publicly until now. Even my Editor-In-Chief, Elizabeth North, doesn’t know what that invite to come play in their pool meant on that day.
You see, four years earlier on Election Day 2008, I had withdrawn from Savannah College of Art and Design because I had a mental breakdown. The pressures of the school had gotten to be too much, I had gotten so beyond unstable, I snapped. That very day, I had agreed to go to a facility for suicide watch. But that was it. My art career was pretty much done.
My life hit the reset button.
So after four years of crawling back up into being human, and being able to just mentally “show up” with regularity, the contract was my symbol of “Look at how far you had come, you’re going to be able to breathe again. You’re going to be okay.”
And now, Rook and Garth’s journey is over, and they have walked off into the sunset together. But it was that first acknowledgement of “You’re going to be okay.” that has inspired me into being braver with the stories I’ve held inside.
Chasing Sunrise, the first installment of The Darkmore Saga is due out this summer. Not only is it my first print novel release, but it’s a very personal story about surviving abuse. As an abuse survivor, I have struggled and still do with putting my thoughts and feelings together. But if it wasn’t for Pawn Takes Rook, I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try.
My second print novel that I actually submitted just yesterday morning on the 12th, Americana Fairytale, the start of the Fairytales of the Open Road series, has a different type message. It is the story of Taylor, an absolute misfit that doesn’t fit in anywhere. He’s lived his entire life with being told he’ll never amount to anything. He bottles up his depression and loneliness and lashes out with anger. He is in the search for where he matters. We all know someone like Taylor. You may have even been Taylor. I know I’ve felt the things Taylor has in my life.
So, a thank you, to all the readers, the critics, authors I have idolized that have since become my friends, and to Elizabeth North.
For a sign that I was going to be okay.
And you know what?
I am okay.