Local Author Signing!

November 22, 2016 at 8:07 pm (A Wounded Name, Appearances, Butterfly Garden) (, , , , )

Hello, my lovelies!

I’ve been buried neck deep in edits these last weeks, but I’m emerging briefly to tell you about an amazing Local Author Event happening at Barnes & Noble Crossroads on Sunday, 27 November 2016.

I’ll be there at three o’clock with eight other Omaha area authors to sign and chat, and it would be amazing to see some of you out there. Can’t make it to the signing? You can call the store and ask about purchasing personalized copies over the phone (if you live in the US–sorry). The authors participating are:

Leo Adam Biga, with his book Alexander Payne: His Journey in Film, a collection of essays chronicling Payne’s career and creative process.

Frances Ewing, with two children’s picture books, Clarence the Happy Clown With a Frown and Erin’s Dance.

Marcia Wilson Holliway, with devotional coloring book Delight in the Lord.

Christie Bassinger, with a collection of encouraging devotionals, Heart and Soul.

Ariel Rodriguez, with her book of dreams and wonders, Legends of the Constellations: Constance.

Marla K. Benjamin with Light in the Dark, where a couple has to piece their lives back together after the unthinkable.

Bruce Arant, the author/illustrator of Golden Sower Nominee Simpson’s Sheep Won’t Go to Sleep.

Barbara Freeman, with a pair of children’s books about adorable pit bull Sugar, Sugar: A Princess Pit Bull Finds Her Family and Super Smart Sugar.

I’ll be there with Butterfly Garden, as well as a few copies of A Wounded Name.

Hope to see you there!



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Book Signing and B-Fest!

June 6, 2016 at 4:16 pm (A Wounded Name, Appearances) (, , , , , , )

That’s right! There’s going to be an in-person type thing!


So some of you may have seen on social media or in stores that every Barnes & Noble store is participating in the first ever B-Fest, a national teen book festival, and it’s happening THIS WEEKEND (June 10-12). There is a ton going on at every store and, in addition to the national events, there are author signings all over the place. It’s going to be a ton of fun!

Why am I posting about this? Well, partly because I think it’s going to be awesome, partly because I’ll be working some of the events as a bookseller, and partly because I’ll be holding a signing! So here’s a break-down of events.


Think you know YA? Put yourself to the test with our Trivia Blast, created by Penguin Teen and Random House’s First in Line. One winner in each store will spend the next year receiving advance reader’s copies of the hottest new teen titles, plus there’s swag!



There are so many amazing titles coming out, and you can be among the first to see them! Get samplers and sneak peeks from some of your favorite authors, including a Maze Runner prequel from James Dashner, new stories from Ransom Riggs’ Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (don’t forget the movie of the first book, out this year!), and others! Other exciting giveaways are in the works, and the publishers sent some pretty awesome stuff.



Settle in for a great time, as we unload spelling showdown, story ball, games, and activities, with even more prizes. Guys, I’ve seen the author coloring book. It’s amazeballs.



Learn how to develop your story in a workshop created by Adaptive Studios and find out more about this awesome publisher and their dual-media projects.

And me!

I’ll be at the Crossroads Barnes & Noble in Omaha to lead the workshop on Sunday (among other things) and it’ll round out with a signing for A WOUNDED NAME. To address the question that may or may not come up: we’ve got THE BUTTERFLY GARDEN on order and hopefully it will be there as well, but the focus will be on A WOUNDED NAME because it’s actually the teen book. (Teen book, teen book fest…you know.) But if our timing from when the book hit the warehouse works out well, we’ll have both books there for those who are interested.

Authors are booked at locations all over the country–call your local Barnes & Noble or check them out on twitter, facebook, or instagram to find out who’s coming to the stores near you. You can also check out #BFESTBUZZ, @bnbuzz, or visit bn.com/b-fest.

While this is primarily intended for young adults, the adults young at heart are welcome to join in the fun. The weekend is a fantastic opportunity for fans to come together and celebrate all the awesomeness that is the teen book scene. Hope to see you there!

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I Found Treasure in the Library!

June 17, 2014 at 1:00 pm (A Wounded Name) (, , , )

Anyone who’s read through the archives on here knows that I love libraries. I love the accessibility of them, the way they can foster readers, the amazing assistance they can give the public through computer and employment programs. I love being surrounded by books. I love walking in and seeing people–especially children–so excited about what books they might stumble upon that day. I love that libraries are the perfect places to take risks on new books, new authors. I was one of the few kids that knew and conversed with all of the school librarians. I spent large portions of my summers in the main branch library downtown.

Libraries have a very special place in my heart.

A few months ago, my friend Lesley and I made a day out of going to one of the libraries in Ocala so she could look around in prep for an interview test. And can I just say, the main branch of the Marion County Public Library is GORGEOUS? It’s elegant and full of light and space. Their kids area is adorable, with science projects and theme displays, and they have an entire room dedicated to YA, with funky chairs and built-in swivel-top desks. We were scanning the shelves, and all of a sudden, I notice something.


The audio book of A Wounded Name! It was the first time I’d actually seen a copy of it!

And if it seems weird that the library has the audio but not the physical book, well, I thought it was, too, so I asked (and blushed and stammered over trying to explain that it was actually my book). Turns out, the MCPL has a weirdly specific grant that gives them the ability to purchase a TON of audio books, especially in YA, so they’ve got a significant collection.

And in addition to the first time seeing the audio book, it was my first time seeing the book in the wild! I don’t count my BN as being the wild; we made very sure to order it in. I got to spend a few months seeing my book on the shelf in my store, but being able to see it somewhere completely unexpected was…it was…

Abso-freaking-lutely unbelievable.

There are a million points in the publishing process where your book starts to feel real–the sale, the first edits, the cover, the ARC, the finished copy, seeing it in a store, seeing someone purchase it–but I’m not sure it ever completely feels real. I was reorganizing my bookshelves a few weeks ago and was actually startled at mine being among them (and that alphabetically, I now have like five Carolrhoda Lab titles on a single shelf in one of the cases). I guess it’s just something that will always feel a little bit surreal.

Theoretically, I knew the physical book was in the library system for my county. (Okay, I admit, I totally looked it up on the library website) I hadn’t actually seen it yet, though. I have two branches that I go to fairly frequently, especially since I became unemployed, and I hadn’t seen it in either of them. I also didn’t feel entirely comfortable placing a hold on something I had no intention of checking out just so I could be lazy and not have to go to a different branch. I mean, let’s be honest, I’m lazy enough that I’ll Netflix shows I own so I don’t have to get up and change the discs, so this was me very carefully drawing a line. I would see it or I wouldn’t.

Thanks to Elizabeth Fama (author of amazing books MONSTROUSE BEAUTY and PLUS ONE, as well as all-around amazing person), I’ve been giving audiobooks a fresh chance, because they’re not something with which I ever do. I’ve been so miserably sick over the past four or five days that audiobooks have actually kind of saved my sanity, because taking super long soaks in the bathtub has been the only way to comfortably breathe, and the tubs in my apartment are so miserably proportioned that you can’t read while soaking. But audiobook? Totally works. So I’ve been finding some that don’t trigger my ADD, which is a wonderful thing. This morning I managed to get three whole hours of sleep, the first sleep in four days, and woke up feeling well enough to go out for a little bit. (That wasn’t really an option, though; I needed food. I had none in the apartment, because I’ve been holed up here in my hermit cave of illness). So, on my way to food, I dropped by the library to return a couple of titles and see if anything interesting had pulled up on the shelves. My branch has the audio books separated by section, but also separated from their sections. (Does that make sense? Like each category has, off to one side, its own little audio section, so you go near the end of Middle Grade, you have the Middle Grade audiobooks, etc) I hadn’t intended to go into the YA physical book section, except that I couldn’t remember exactly where the YA audiobooks were, because there was a weird allowance for running out of space in the area.

But my book was there!


Just randomly sitting there on the shelf! And there’s a special sticker on for Local Author! (And a categorization of YA mystery, which kind of cracks me up a little, but whatever)

As wonderful as it is to see my book in a store, there’s something just indescribable about seeing it in a library. I think a big part of that is how much libraries were a part of my life growing up. Seriously, guys, think about everything your libraries do. It’s not as simple as “borrow books”. Libraries provide such a huge range of services. They help teach English to immigrants, they teach computer and life skills classes, and host job search and interview workshops. They do literacy assistance for all ages, from story time with the youngest children to working with adults who learning how to read. They host book clubs and writing groups and drawing classes. They hold a number of community gatherings, from small festivals to council meetings to town meetings. They serve as polls, both for early voting and standard voting. And that’s just a fraction of the services they provide.

Did you know you can request books?

You can! Most library systems have a way for patrons to request specific books, even in specific formats. You submit the request, they’ll consider it, and if there’s repeated interest or they think it’s a good fit (and, you know, they have money), they’ll buy it. A lot of them will even notify you when it’s in, and give you the option to place an automatic hold. If they can’t get it for their own system, a number of libraries are partnering with other counties, sometimes even in other states, for inter-library loan. In a time when libraries are struggling to get the funds to survive, librarians are doing everything they can to increase the availability of books.

Seriously, you should all go hug your librarians.

But ask them first, otherwise it’s kind of creepy.

I saw the book sitting there on the shelf and for a moment, all I could do was stare at it. Then it sank in and I started giggling, only I have no voice right now, so it came out as a kind of witchy cackle, and I think I scared the guy re-shelving books down the row. It was just amazing to see! There are kids like me, kids who rely on libraries because the money isn’t there to buy books for keeps, who can see this book and take it home with them.

I still can’t stop smiling about it.

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Signing Reminder

September 25, 2013 at 5:42 pm (A Wounded Name, Appearances) (, , , )

Look what’s patiently waiting in the store:


I don’t know that I’ll ever get over the sight of my own book coming in the back door at work. It is AWESOME.

And now you can come share my excitement! This is just a reminder that I’ll be doing a signing at the Gainesville Barnes and Noble this Saturday, Saturday 28th, from 3 to 5 pm. There isn’t a reading but I will be delighted to answer questions, and of course there will be signing and smiles and swag (and apparently alliteration). If you have questions, you can ask them here, over on twitter (@dothutchison), on my facebook page (located on the sidebar), or you can also call the store at 352-372-3535.

If you don’t live in the Gainesville area, or you just can’t make it in, you can still a get signed copy after the fact! We’ll be keeping a stash of books in stock, so you can call the number above and order a signed a/o personalized copy to be shipped out to you. I even keep a stash of purple Sharpies at work just for that purpose.

I really hope to see y’all there, and I would love you forever and ever if you’d help me spread the word!

Until next time~

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Release Week Goodies!

September 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm (A Wounded Name, Appearances) (, , , , )

With A Wounded Name out in the world now, I thought I’d do a round up of some of the fun release week stuff that’s out there!

First up, my friend Shae has an interview and ARC giveaway up. The giveaway is only for another day, but the interview is forever. Fun note: Shae went to college in my home town, so even though we met through blogging, we very likely encountered each other at the bookstore where I work. Probably multiple times. She asked some really fun questions, and I love her enthusiasm for books. Not just mine- books in general. Authors need (and love!) champions like her.

My friend and agent-mate Chelsea Pitcher, author of The S-Word, also has an interview up. The giveaway is closed, but she asked some seriously fantastic questions about feminism and Ophelia.

Speaking of feminism, Rhiannon over at Feminist Fiction also has an interview up, specifically asking about the difficulties in a soul-deep feminist telling the story of one of the most famously passive female characters of all time.

Finally, my publisher, Carolrhoda Lab (an imprint of Lerner Publishing) is doing a giveaway for two copies of the book! The Lab has an absolutely amazing fall list for you guys (and us- I am crazy looking forward to some of these titles!)

Until next time~

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Signing for A Wounded Name

September 6, 2013 at 9:07 am (A Wounded Name, Appearances) (, , )

It’s here! It’s real and out there and holy wow!

And now, something I’ve been waiting for since I was about five years old, I get to announce my first signing in a bookstore!

On Saturday, 28 September, from 3-5 pm at the Gainesville, FL Barnes & Noble, I’ll be doing my first signing. If you’re in the area, you’re welcome to come down! It’s not a solid two-hour event, we purposefully created a window of time to accommodate busy schedules (and football). For Gator fans, don’t worry- it’s an away game that day.

We checked.

If you can’t get down there, well, we’ll miss you, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get signed books. If you call the store at 352-372-3535, you can actually purchase copies over the phone and get them sent out. If you want them just signed, we can do that, if you want them personalized, I can do that too, all you have to do is let the cashier know so they can write it out on the slip for me. If you have any questions, you can ask here, or you can also call the store to ask.

In the meantime, thank you all so much for all the good wishes and congratulations this past week. It’s been amazing and surreal and even though I’ve always wanted to get my books published, I think there was a part of me that was always convinced I’d never make it. Every now and then I have to go pet the cover to remind myself that it’s happened. It looks so pretty on the shelf!

Until next time~
(or until the signing!)

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Happy Birthday to A Wounded Name!

September 1, 2013 at 10:06 am (A Wounded Name) (, )

It’s official! A Wounded Name is out in the world!

I can’t…I can’t even…

Holy cow my book is out in the world!

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A Wounded Name Giveaway!

July 9, 2013 at 6:34 pm (A Wounded Name, Giveaway) (, , , )

September is creeping closer and closer! In less than two months, A Wounded Name will be out in the world for all to see!

You can even read the first chapter for free.

So to celebrate, how’s about a giveaway?

There are actually THREE prize packs available!

First prize is a SIGNED, HARDCOVER copy of A Wounded Name. It’s so pretty and smooth and did I mention pretty? You can also choose to have this personalized. Also included is a signed swag pack.

Second prize is a copy of Defy the Dark, edited by Saundra Mitchell. It has a slew of amazing stories in it, but the reason I selected it for a giveaway is Tessa Gratton’s story “This was Ophelia”. Does that name sound familiar? It should- this is a brilliant take on Hamlet set in all the heady glory of the Jazz Age. I’m a sucker for Hamlet anyway (go figure) and I adore Tessa Gratton’s writing, and this was just a win-win all the way around. This one also includes a signed swag pack for A Wounded Name.

Third prize pack is a signed swag pack, enough to have AND to share!

Enter Here

The only piece that’s mandatory is the comment: tell me what book or books you’re looking forward to this fall. You can get extra points for liking my facebook page or following me on twitter, as well as tweeting about the giveaway. PLUS, you can add points by tweeting each day. The giveaway is up for a week, so it’ll close Tuesday night (the 16th)

Less than two months!

Until next time~

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I Have a Voice!

June 16, 2013 at 8:44 am (A Wounded Name) (, , , )

Well, I mean, obviously, I’ve always had a voice, and it doesn’t need to be the spoken word to prove that, but still.

One of the weirder aspects of social media is that we get used to thinking of people we’ve never met as a particular icon or outfit or look, so when we actually see them in person it’s like “I’m sorry, who are you?” It’s not like the pop culture celebrity fixation. Our celebrities are celebrated for their books, not plastered everywhere so you can effortlessly recognize them.

But, while I was up at BEA, I recorded a podcast with Book Bliss, and it’s up! You can listen to it HERE.

And can I just say, I don’t think there’s ever been a person in the history of recording that’s listened to their voice afterwards and said “YES! That is EXACTLY what I thought I would sound like!”

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A Look Behind A Wounded Name

June 15, 2013 at 10:41 am (A Wounded Name, Writing) (, , , , )

When you tell someone about a project you’re writing or have written, one of the first questions you usually hear is “Where did it come from?” Or, as my agent puts it, “Your brain must be a terrifying place.” (Reason a billion and one that Sandy and I are a really great fit) And most of the time, someone asks me this, and I just kind of start to stammer. The truth is, I have no idea where most of my stories come from. I remember strange things, I think of strange things, and they all just sort of stew together in my brain until suddenly two or more things click together and I sit up and go OOH! THAT COULD WORK!! I can occasionally trace back influences, things that have been roiling around in my mind for weeks or months or even years, but I can only really think of two projects where I could specifically point to something and say “This, this is where it came from”.

But A Wounded Name is one of those projects.

In some ways, it starts out as a pretty broad answer: a lifelong love of Shakespeare. I was the kid who brought Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing and Measure for Measure to elementary school with me, struggling through the language, and even though I got none of the subtleties or dirty jokes, I could more or less understand what was going on. It was in eighth grade that the appreciation shifted into something deeper, and there are two reasons for that.

The first was that my friend Carl, who was in Junior Thespians with me, performed the dagger monologue from Macbeth for the Districts and State Competitions/Festivals. And did it REALLY WELL. Even the kids in the audience who’d never come up against Shakespeare before got it. Even if they didn’t know the story or the character, they knew that this guy was coming seriously unhinged- and planning something really awful.

The second was that our gifted humanities teacher, Mrs. Shaughnessy, introduced us to Shakespeare in a way that was FUN. We read through Henry IV, Part I in class, and it’s a history play, so it’s easy to get bogged down in the poetically framed politics, but she very brilliantly focused on Hal and Falstaff. Dude, Shakespeare was FUNNY! And PERVY! We were cracking up about it, and when there was a filthy joke based off of slang we didn’t understand, she explained it. This sweet, delicate-looking, soft-spoken teacher in her fifties actually stood there and explained to teenagers that this page and a half of text was actually full of jokes about whether or not a guy’s junk worked. And, to reward us for successfully getting through the play, we took an end of year field trip to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, where they were performing As You Like It, and we DIED. The performance was amazing, incredibly well done, and that’s when we finally understood that Shakespeare was meant to be performed, not read.


Shakespeare wasn’t published within his lifetime. It was after his death that some of his friends got together and published his plays. Before that point, you experienced Shakespeare by actually experiencing it, by seeing it, hearing it, feeling it. Shakespeare is meant to be performed, and some of us took that to heart.

The next year, three of my good friends and I decided we wanted to do an ensemble acting piece for Districts. We were nervous, because we were freshmen in a program that wasn’t, at the time, freshmen friendly, but two of us had done the summer theatre program with the school and gotten to know a bunch of the older kids, and more importantly the teacher, who was also an old friend of my family, and we figured if we put together something really good, it wouldn’t matter that we were younger, maybe we could still get a spot. I honestly don’t remember how we ended up with the play we did- I remember us looking, all of us digging into any play we could get our hands on. I don’t remember who found the winner.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard, is an absolutely brilliant play that’s woven through Hamlet, but it’s pretty much based off of two lines.

TWO LINES. In all of Hamlet an entire play was able to be based off of TWO LINES.

And they’re an innocuous two line set, nothing glorious or earth-shattering.

CLAUDIUS: Thank you, Rosencrantz, and gentle Guildenstern.

GERTRUDE: Thank you, Guildenstern, and gentle Rosencrantz.

Now this is one of those places where performance is everything, because you can do a LOT of different things with those two lines. Most productions just kind of gloss over them. After all, Ros and Guil are hardly significant characters. They are so generally un-important, in fact, that Shakespeare gives us absolutely nothing to distinguish between them. They are utterly non-distinct, a pair never seen separated. So, some productions play off of that by saying that Claudius doesn’t know them that well, that he puts the adjective with the wrong name, and so Gertrude is gently correcting him with her statement.

Stoppard took those two lines and spun out this wonderful journey of one existential crisis after another, where these two characters are totally at sea in everything that’s going on around them, and lost as they are, can’t help but cry out again and again WHO AM I AND WHAT AM I DOING HERE? Guildenstern even argues, though he thinks he’s talking about the situation, that rather than being opposite sides of the same coin, they are actually the same sides of two coins, able to be manipulated separately and yet still the same thing. This play is fiendishly intelligent, full of wordplay that would make the Bard proud, a tragic sense of inevitability, and yet an unapologetic love of the absurd. Ros and Guil are adrift, are utterly incapable of understanding everything going on around them because Hamlet is, after all, a play where everyone has secrets from each other, but they’re being manipulated by EVERYONE, everyone is trying to use them for their own ends and aims. And in Stoppard’s play, the director is the devious, somewhat implacable Player, leader of the company Hamlet hires for his trap.

We fell in love with this play, and we finally found a scene we thought would work for all four of us, where Hamlet welcomes his pair of old school friends to Elsinore and bids them be respectful to the Player. From that point on, Ros and Guil are trying to figure out what’s going on, and the Player is…well, let’s call it less than direct. There’s a lot of stumbling over words, because English is, after all, a bizarre language, imprecise at the best of times. We practiced and practiced and practiced, we watched two or three different movie versions of Hamlet, we watched the movie production with Tim Roth, Gary Oldman, and Richard Dreyfuss (which is brilliant, by the way), we argued ENDLESSLY over stupid things. Seriously, we spent probably five weeks arguing over the pronunciation of gesture until we finally asked someone. But we had a fairly solid piece when we auditioned, and so our teacher gave us a slot for Districts, and we started practicing even harder.

Our rehearsals often got sidetracked, because as much as we wanted to polish this and make it awesome, the word-play was fantastically fun. We kept looking outside of the scene, or even all the way back to Hamlet to pull in context or hints or allusions because there was just so much wealth to work it. And we asked questions. Not just what does this word mean, or what is he trying to say here, but bigger questions.

Is Hamlet actually crazy?

Does the Player know all of what’s going on?

What are the consequences of trying to understand the situation?

And we asked questions that had absolutely nothing to do with the scene, but were just such interesting questions that we couldn’t help ourselves.

Does Hamlet love Ophelia?

Why does Ophelia lose it?

How much does Gertrude know?

How much does Polonius know?

SO MANY QUESTIONS, and we could debate them endlessly. Honestly, in high school the four of us could debate almost anything endlessly, simply because the discussion itself was that much fun.

We took the piece to Districts and did REALLY well. We got straight superiors, so all three judges in the room thought that we did an amazing job. Not the absolute best job they saw in the room (Critics’ Choice) but a really solid, wonderful job. We were ecstatic. And because of those straight superiors, we automatically got one of the very few slots available for State. Which…pissed off a bunch of the upper classmen, who felt they should get preferential treatment because we had three more years ahead of us to compete. To which our teacher replied that if they wanted that badly to compete in State, they should have worked harder, done better, and ranked higher.

Our teacher didn’t really put up with anyone’s crap.

State is a lot harder than Districts- you have to get at least an excellent at Districts to be able to compete, and because of limited slots, each school tries to bring its best stuff, so the judges rank accordingly. We got an excellent at State, and were ridiculously happy about it.

Senior year, in a fit of nostalgia, we decided to do the same piece again. We hadn’t all four been in a single competition piece since freshmen year, so there was something that felt pretty right about it, and we knew even at the beginning of the year that we weren’t going to all be going to the same colleges. And this time, we had three more years of debates under our belt, three more years of independently dissecting the play we’d all fallen in love with. And someone, one of the parents, I’d suspect, decided to get a picture of us this time.


Now, keeping in mind that this picture was taken TEN AND A HALF YEARS AGO, we have, starting at twelve o’clock: me, as the Player, Betty-Jane as Rosencrantz, JD as Hamlet, and Jeff as Guildenstern.

This time, the ensemble piece wasn’t our main focus. We all had different things we were doing that year. JD was in a duet pantomime (I’m Not as Think as You Drunk I Am, which was absolutely hysterical and won Critics’ Choice), Betty-Jane had monologues and a duet acting scene that were both absolutely brilliant (and off the top of my head I can’t remember your scores, Betty-Jane, sorry!), Jeff was doing Publicity Design (Critics’ Choice and Tech District Representative), and I had a solo, a duet musical, and Playwriting (for Playwriting I received Critics’ Choice and Tech District Representative). We were mostly focused on all of that, so this piece was really just for us, something fun to do together because we’d all been so crazy busy with everything.

And it was. It was brilliant, and fun, and we did well at Districts and not quite as well at State, and that was okay. Because we loved it, and we had a blast asking all those questions again, and asking better questions, deeper questions, questions that used the play as a stepping off point and tried to apply the possible answers against the broader human condition.

Okay, we were super pretentious in high school- aren’t most high schoolers?

The next year, Jeff and I both went down to the College of Theatre and Dance at the University of South Florida, him for the technical track, me for the performance track. Our senior year, he did the theatre honors track, combining that thesis with his honors college one, and he and his honors classmates created, from the ground up, a study on Ophelia. They researched and debated and eventually wrote and designed a production called Remembrances, also known as the Ophelia project. I went to see the performance, and really, it was just brilliant. From every standpoint, honestly, the writing, the acting, the design and execution.

Its sense of time was fluid- interspersed with scenes from Hamlet were moments where the fractured pieces of Ophelia interacted, and memories of happier times with her family. It didn’t try to define Ophelia- it tried to explore her. To understand her.

During its larval stage, Jeff and I used to get together every Thursday for Wine and Laundry night. I lived in a place that didn’t have laundry facilities, and I lived in an area where you REALLY didn’t go to the all-night laundromats unless you wanted to get mugged or raped, and at that time, my weekends were dedicated to Job Number One, which was retail, Job Number Two, which was rehearsals and then performance for the Renaissance Faire, Unpaid Job Number Three, which was tech work on the shows the college put on, for which I received mandatory credits, plus working on my own honors thesis, which was a novel. The only thing that made the weekends distinct was that I didn’t have sit-down class. So, Thursday nights, where conversations would range over every possible topic, and frequently came back to Ophelia, because we both had a long-held interest in her.

Backing up slightly, at the end of my junior year, I’d proposed a thesis project that would take seven questions from/about Shakespeare’s plays and explore them as novellas. One of these seven pieces was going to be about Ophelia, a fractured time piece where her sanity has already slipped but she’s still trying to tell us the story, only she can’t piece it together in the right order. I ended up not doing that because my potential thesis advisor and I disagreed on how to approach them. I didn’t want to research other takes until after I’d written mine, so as to avoid influence, and she felt I needed to research them first so I could support my own opinion.

I love research, but an academic researcher I’ll never be.

And in a way, I was a little grateful that it fell through, because of all the questions I’d intended to face, that one TERRIFIED ME, and when it came to writing, I was only learning to be brave at that point. Back then, I thought if it scared me, that was a sign I should do something else. So, I went back and looked at the only original novel I’d ever finished, back from the beginning of freshmen year of college which desperately needed to be re-written pretty much from the ground up, and asked around for advice on who to approach as an advisor, given that the Creative Writing Dept had never waivered me in to their classes, and at the end of the year, when I met with Dr Omlor, my advisor, for my final evaluation, he told me I was an idiot if I didn’t try to get published.

Over the next few years, Ophelia kept creeping out in small ways. The next year, when I was taking a poetry class at the community college (long story), she found her way into one of the poems. The prompt was to take lines from established pieces and use them within our own poem. I borrowed from both Hamlet and T.S. Eliot (several of his poems, really), and what came out was…I loved it. And I suck at poetry, so for me to say that I love this poem is really kind of extraordinary. There was something broken about it, the way the original lines were left justified and the borrowed lines right justified, the way your eye had to travel across the page, the way the original lines could be read entirely on their own and still tell the story but the borrowed lines added something…I don’t think I’d ever loved one of my own poems before. At about the same time, I was writing a Harry Potter fanfiction called (and here I’m outing myself, oh well) “Where the Breezes Know My Name”. It’s a STRANGE little piece, but at the time it was the most poetic prose I’d ever written, and for YEARS I swore about it, because I thought it was beautiful and there was no way in hell I could unravel it from the original source enough to use it for anything original.

A few years later, I woke up in the middle of the night with Ophelia’s voice in my head, specifically the first few lines of the book, which have remained unchanged from that moment.

The sky is blue today.
Blue like glacier ice, like hidden springs. Blue like jays’ wings, peacock feathers. Blue like my mother’s skin.

Well. Hello, Ophelia!

But I was in the middle of another project at the moment, one that was quickly growing to the point that it needed to be split into two books (and will thankfully never, ever, EVER see the light of day), so I wrote down the lines on the notebook beside my bed and figured I’d forget about it.

But Ophelia, as a figment, is sneakily persistent. She’d pop up in my dreams, shoving these eerie and lovely and unsettling images at me, I’d hear her voice and write the lines down on napkins, scrap papers, business cards, sometimes even my arm or the back of my hand if I didn’t have anything else handy. Ophelia would not go away, and she was bound and determined that she wasn’t going to be quiet.

Having Ophelia in my head was like edging into a kind of insanity, and it didn’t really stop until I finally sat down, typed the first lines in a fresh word document, and let her take the reins.

From start to finish, the first draft took twenty-three days, and because of work and other obligations, I couldn’t write every day. Once I typed in the last line, it was like this massive weight was off me, like suddenly I could breathe again. For weeks, I’d been drowning in Ophelia, and suddenly my head was clear again.

But where she first started gaining form, where the questions first started giving her a distinct and permanent existence in some part of my brain, was 1999, when Jeff, JD, Betty-Jane, and I first sat together over a battered library copy of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, which an eye towards taking it to competition.

And that is the story behind the story, behind A Wounded Name.

Until next time~

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