In exactly 12 days, my second novel (The Boy Who Steals Houses) will be out in the world.
Why yes I am absolutely 1000% freaking out, how are you. The weeks leading up to release day are equal parts thrilling and terrifying — and I still feel like I’m trying to find my footing after my debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes, came out just last June. Yes. That was only 10 months ago.
Am I tired??? Dude I am Very Tired™.
When I got to make the official announcement for The Boy Who Steals Houses’ release date + title, a lot of people said, “I can’t believe you have a second book already!” But I actually announced I had a 2-book deal right up front! So this was always always coming! I still have to pinch myself that I even landed a 2-book deal in the first place.😍 TBWSH wasn’t even written! It wasn’t even a blimp in my imagination yet! Being trusted — and wanted — like that was such an encouraging way to start my career.
My emotions were !!!!!!!!!!! for days and days.
So I thought I’d outline how The Boy Who Steals Houses came to be.
I was going to do this closer to release day but then I realised: “CAIT. IT IS CLOSE TO RELEASE DAY HOLY HECK GET ON THIS.” This is also a good time to admit I have very limited time-and-spacial-awareness. I’m the person who cheerfully believes, every. freaking. time., that I can fit 6 hours of writing into 30mins before bed. And then I wonder why I never sleep, but anyway.
Also I hope you are beholding the GLORY that is the finished copy of The Boy Who Steals Houses!! I got sent two (the rest of author-copies will come later) and I may have just cried over my package. (I sent the second one off to my critique partner Maraia who this book seriously wouldn’t exist without.😘)
Also NOTE: It’s out in Australia on the 9th, instead of the 4th! So you get to suffer and wait longer.
I wrote The Boy Who Steals Houses in November 2016.
It was a NaNoWriMo novel! It was also a heckin’ mess. So if that doesn’t encourage you to resuscitate your beloved but also catastrophically messy NaNo drafts — then what will. There is hope out there, in the darkness.
I’d signed my 2-book deal (starting with A Thousand Perfect Notes) back in June of 2016, so I didn’t know what that “untitled 2nd contemporary” was going to be. My plan was to write a ton, cry a bit, and pitch ideas to my editors. I ended up writing two full novels and coming up with a few other pitches. Writing grew strangely hard right then. I had ATPN signed and in edits and there fore I had plenty of time to panic. (Ex: COULD I EVEN WRITE?!?! WAS ATPN A FLUKE!?!? have i ever written a novel in my life).
Am I dramatic?? Pshaw.
Anyway. The pitch that everyone pointed to with a YES was for → The Boy Who Steals Houses.
(What about the other contemporaries I’ve written and pitched? Some got rejected, as that’s the business. And some I’ve scoured their cold corpses and gone through their pockets to take scenes for other books.)
TBWSH was officially confirmed to be my 2nd novel around November 2017.
That’s pretty fast ok!! Almost exactly 1 year since it even crawled sulkily into existence.
edits edits edits edits edits edits edits edits edits edits
Actually the whole process of how TBWSH got to be a final draft felt very different from how it went with my debut, A Thousand Perfect Notes. So basically n o t h i n g is certain. Except cake. Bless cake.
➸ The Boy Who Steals Houses required a rather large edit.
The first things authors do when asked to rewrite something is: cry. I cried. It was a daunting taste and I was a New Green Author Hatchling still (ATPN wasn’t out yet remember). I was also insecure about writing about two things that were very personal to me: (1) anxiety, and (2) autism. When you splatter your heart on the table and people say, “Hm, this needs to be better,” it’s a terrifying moment of: I’m wrong. How could I be so so wrong. I shouldn’t be writing this. Cue me staring into the bottomless pit of despair.
So that life meltdown lasted, um, one day. Then I wanted to work.
The thing with being a traditional author and working with your editor is: they are ON YOUR SIDE. They see your work, they see the imperfections and the gnarly edges that you don’t see. Because you’re way too close to your own vision of the project. Half of my intentions for the story where still in my head. NOT on the page. They kinda needed to be on the page!
So we fixed it. We got MY full vision on the page. I worked with my editors ideas. (My agent is really supportive and close in my journey too and weighs in when I need her!) We made the book 100 x better, kept my vision, polished it, and turned out a book I’m so intensely in love with it makes my heart fit to burst.
Changing your story, your baby, will always be scary. But writing a novel isn’t a one person job. If your editor knows your book’s heart and knows *your* heart, then you’ll both work your hardest to turn this story into a fully incredible novel.
I emphasis this because I get a lot of unpublished writers tell me, “Yeah but I don’t want anyone to *change* me.” And look, I get the stubborn feels? Like I said: this is our baby. Our hardest work. But your editor is here to make it your best work. Not just your hardest. You’ve got the passion. They’ve got the professional knowledge to get your passion into trim shape.
ugh i love just love having people help me with my work lmao otherwise I’m a mess
Things That Changed Between Drafts
- I added in the flash backs!! I LOVE THE FLASH BACKS. These were my editor’s idea.
- Also fun fact: I legit wrote “backflash” every single time in the manuscript and my editor is like, “Uh did you know it’s flashback?” Well there.
- I trimmed some scenes. I felt sad losing them, but also…the book was really long and as cute as the scenes were, they were pointless haha. (But you WILL get to see a deleted scene as part of my blog tour! More details will come!)
- Avery’s character got a large overhaul. He’s my autistic character and I was scared to change him — but also the way he is in the final book? It’s 1000% what I wanted but didn’t quite get to originally.
- The violence…had to be…toned…down. (Lmao. I swear I’m nice in person in real life.)
- Approximately 39849839 typos had to be fixed.
- I actually changed almost ALL the De Lainey kids’ names! The sole De Lainey who kept their name was Jeremy. I named him after A CHILD’S PICTURE BOOK ABOUT A KOOKABURRA.
- And we did a bit of UK vs Australian translating. Apparently the British do not have “eskys”. What’s wrong with you lot.
Then waiting. Looots of waiting. I’d maybe do a few more tweaks. Copy edits came in. I did a last minute panicked fix of the very final pages.
I got to see the cover! It’s designed by Thy Bui who also did covers for: Shadow & Bone, The Astonishing Colour of After and Everless! I originally did hope it was going to be more yellow, because it’s a Goldilocks retelling. But in the end it’s perfect and I was stoked with everyone’s reactions. The keys are utter perfection and fit in with the story so well!
Acknowledgements writing time: aka when I freak out because WHAT IF I FORGET SOMEONE. I got all emotional while writing them though, so when you read the acknowledgements: picture me with my heart melting like a pot of warmed chocolate.
The dedication? I used a line out of the actual book:
if lost please return to the De Laineys
This captures both everything Sam feels and everything my readers also feel (!!) because, no joke, I am getting constant messages saying “I WANNA BE ADOPTED BY THE DELAINYS TOO.” Mood, my friends.
And on April 4th it’s going to be in bookstores 😍 and I’m going to be a happy mess.
This book stole my heart. It is both a story where I wrote vulnerable things and also heart things. There were so many times I thought it wouldn’t make it — but it did. And I just…!! Do you want to get an umbrella so I can cry on you, maybe? Because, me right now.
And look, I don’t know what happens after TBWSH. Being an author isn’t a place of guarantees. I have fingers so tightly crossed that TBWSH will do well, sell well, and be loved — and that I’ll be able to sell another book and keep telling you all my heart’s stories. So we’ll see, OK!?
Right now I’m excited and anxious about release day. I’m in love with this book and I can’t wait for you to meet my disaster son, Sam, and his desperate wish to find the home and family he is looking for.