It shouldn’t be a surprise to me, but the YA publishing industry has done a really good job of improving my book’s love plot

When I was writing this book, I knew it had to have a love story in it, because I knew that its main character, Reshma, was obsessed with being the best, and part of being the best in high school is being able to elicit romantic interest from the opposite sex. But I, like my protagonist, don’t have that much romantic experience. And, furthermore, I’m not exactly interested in love-as-love. I’m interested in love-as-status-symbol and love-as-an-entangling-relationship and love as a whole bunch of other things, but the actuality of it–love as a connection between two individuals–is not and was not something that I was hugely interested in writing about.

As such, it’s no surprise that each level of comments on this book (so far, two rounds from my agent and two from my editors at Disney) has included a number of notes on the love interests in this book. And, over time, the love interests have gotten way better! Especially the initial love interest, Aakash, who’s kind of a nerdy Indian kid that Reshma starts dating just because she can. In my initial drafts, he was a little blah. But over time he’s gotten to be much more interesting. He understands her. And, in many ways, he’s similar to her. But he also has a core of integrity. I don’t know, especially in this latest draft, I’m really fascinated by him as a character. Part of me almost wonders if, in the end, he might not be a better match for her.

And I think that’s a relationship which never would’ve come alive if this hadn’t been a YA novel. Because YA is a genre that treats love seriously–just as seriously as teens themselves treat it. It’s kind of a paradox, that our most passionate and intense feelings–our deepest loneliness and most intense longing–come at a time in our life that comes, after the space of years, to feel a little bit trivial. Obviously your teen years aren’t meaningless, but it’s just…you have so little agency when you’re a teen, and it’s hard to feel like anything you do during that time can really matter to you as an adult. I think that my tendency, oftentimes, is to think of the teenage years as a time that can scar you, but not help you, and that the purpose of high school is to emerge with as little damage as possible.

But that’s not what the YA genre is about. Which is, I think, really valuable. If there’s a problem in this world, it doesn’t come from people taking themselves too seriously. In fact, it’s strange how you lose your teenage seriousness as you grow older. When you’re a teen, love is real and alive. And you feel yourself to be so capable of doing so many things. But as you get older, a feeling of impotence sets in. And that impotence manifests itself, in adult writing, as cynicism.

And, to bring it full circle, I think the main benefit of the editing process has been to cleanse a little of the cynicism from my book. Not all of it. Not even most of it. But enough of it that I think it’s more possible, now, to fall in love with these characters.Who_dares_to_love_forever__by_Reinex

Where I am regarding the book

contractI sold my novel this past May, maybe six months ago? When a publisher makes an offer on the book, the acquiring editor sends you a fairly detailed offer memo that contains details on the size of the advance, the royalty rates, the rights they want to buy, and what percentage of the money from sale of subsidiary rights will accrue to you (i.e. if they sell the right to put out, like, an audiobook version, then how much of that money do I get). Everyone told me that when you sell a book, it takes a really long time for the contracts to come through, which did kind of perplex me. The offer memo seemed, to me, to be so detailed that I was like, what else is there to talk about?

But apparently there are a lot of things to talk about. I’m not saying I understand it all, but from what I can tell, it all hinges on the specific wording of various clauses of the twenty page book contract that forms an actual set of legally enforceable obligations on both sides. And there are lots of fiddly little bits of language in there that need discussing. Like, what happens if they decide not to publish the book? What happens if I don’t deliver on the second book? What happens if the company goes bankrupt? What happens when my book goes out of print?

So what I’m saying is that for the last six months, my agent has been hammering out the details of this contract with the people at Disney. For most of this time, I assume it was sitting on the desks of very busy people as they handled other things. Anyway, this all resulted, about a week ago, in an actual contract, which I signed in quadruplicate and sent back to him. Now, it’s being sent to the publisher or the vice president or someone at Disney for their signature. And, at that point, the sale will be final.

It always felt really odd to me that in publishing you announce deals (and turn down other peoples’ offers) before the deal is actually final. But that’s how it goes.

Anyway, with regards to the actual disposition of my book, Enter Title Here, things are also a bit up-in-the-air, since the editor who acquired my book left her job at Disney in order to take up a new position at Little, Brown. That, in turn, means that my book isn’t really going anywhere until Disney hires someone new to replace my acquiring editor. Which they seem to be on the verge of doing. So, you know, progress.