Recently, I received an email and this picture from a newly formed book group that had chosen Firegirl as their first book. I am touched and honored.
It's a humbling thing to think of people reading the story. It's a personal story, in that it was inspired by something that happened when I was in 7th grade. There was a girl like Jessica, a friend like Jeff, a class election, a Cobra, all of that. The story, when I wrote it, quickly became its own, and the original incidents were magnified and enlarged and many new things imagined and added.I think, for me, one of the things I found in writing it was that it was a sort of a do-over for me, a second chance, in the writing itself, to have things come out differently, better. The tiny things, the little powers, those are what make the big changes, I think. And we all have it in ourselves to do small things. We're so often afraid or embarrassed to "get out there" and do something. Once you do something kind, it may prove to have been less awkward and painful than we thought. It's a lesson that we forget and that doesn't get easier to do.It's sometimes hard to hear readers talk about Jeff. He's definitely a character who is mostly negative, but who is, finally, an agent of change in both Jessica and Tom. Some readers want to yell at him. Readers sometimes ask if there is another story about Tom and Jessica, readers wanting to know what happens next. As a matter of fact, I have (slowly) been sketching out a companion book, but I was fairly startled to discover that the story revolves this time around Jeff. He's fallen on harder times than in Firegirl, and it's a story about some kind of connection between him and Tom, who had dropped him at the end of Firegirl. Anyway, I suppose that's beside the point.I hope the discussion was strong and fiery. No one's thoughts are unhelpful. Everyone's input is part of the great conversation.