Here Is a Good Thing That Happened That Made My Head Feel as if it Was About to Pop


Photo: Chris Breeze (Creative Commons-attribution), weirdness added by me.

There have been exactly two times in my life when my reaction to receiving good news was the bizarre sensation that my head was filled with a balloon that had suddenly been inflated beyond maximum capacity and was about to burst. The first time was when a literary agent responded to my query seeking representation for my novel by asking to see the first three chapters of it. (I actually had two agents respond to my queries by asking to see a portion of my novel, but my head-balloon didn’t fill up the second time; I guess I was already becoming jaded? In neither case did the agents offer to represent my novel.)

The second time I thought my head was going to pop occurred in the final week of 2016. I was in my kitchen, innocently doing dishes, when my wife, Angela, returned home from running some errands and said, “Have you seen this week’s Indy Week? The ‘Best of 2016’ issue?” She was peering at something on her phone as she said this.

“I’ve seen it,” I said, “but I haven’t read any of it. Why? Is Therese in it?” I was referring to my friend Therese Anne Fowler, author of the novel Z, which Amazon is developing as a TV series starring Christina Ricci in the title role of Zelda Fitzgerald. The trailer for Z‘s first season had just dropped and was getting huge amounts of attention, and I thought maybe the Indy had covered it.

“No,” Angela said. “You’re in it.” She held her phone up to me, and lo and behold, it displayed an Indy Week web page saying that my novel Blood Family was named as one of the “Ten Most Fantastical Local Books of 2016.”

Right away I felt as if a band was tightening around my temples, but from the inside, which makes no sense. I read the little blurb about my book, and the sensation intensified. I’ve been alone with this thing for so long now that it feels really strange for the novel to get any attention at all, much less such positive attention; strange, but very, very good. Many thanks to Indy writer Samuel Montgomery-Blinn for the shout-out!

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