Thursday, May 20, 2010

Impossible Questions, Unsatisfying Answers

Sometimes the simplest, most obvious questions are the most difficult to answer. One such question is the inevitable, "So, what's your new book about?"

Camera pans over to me. Eyes open wide. Mouth in a stutter. A maddening scramble of ums and ahs as I try to find a sentence or two that explains 300 pages of writing. It's not that I don't know what the book is about, it's just that I don't know how to convey it easily.

In the end, there's a lot "it's about (such and such) but that's not really what it's about." One of the problems is that character is such a big part of my writing that to simply describe the plot tells you very little about what I consider the reading experience or point of the book to be.

Also in my defense, if I could sum up what a novel was about in a few sentences, I wouldn't be a novelist. I'd write song lyrics. By our nature, novelists ramble. We can't tell a story quickly because we are obsessed with the little things. The details. The details. God how we love the details.

But of course, there is a need for a brief summary. A succinct phrasing to interest and tease. After all, readers need some way to pick and choose between the mountain range of books. So, here's my attempt:

My new book is about a young girl struggling with reality in a world that has gone insane.


  1. hear hear on the former. but, you got me with the one word - insane - in the latter.

  2. Yay! I'll go with that then whenever anyone asks.