On January 5th, my family and I were in Bozeman, Montana, visiting friends. It happened to be my birthday, so we borrowed our friend’s Toyota Sequoia, drove downtown, had a nice calm dinner. My wife and kids like to eat early (that means I’ve been conditioned to eat early), so at about 6:40 we piled back in the car and headed home, ready to get wide and go to bed.
On the way, at the corner of Main and College, right in front of the Barnes & Noble (which, btw, had no copies of my books) this happened.
I won’t belabor the horror of the accident. Our vehicle is the one on the left. The driver – who both my wife and I assume was looking at his phone – was in oncoming traffic and decided to take a left turn without first checking to see if any vehicles were barreling at him. Unfortunately, there was. Us. My family.
For me, it wasn’t the tremendous crunch of impact that terrified, it was my daughter’s screams as the car continued to move even after I had no control over it. I feared that one of my family had been seriously injured.
As a sometimes writer of horror, I throw around words like screaming and shrieking pretty frequently, like they’re nothing. It’s so much different when it’s your daughter, or wife, that’s screaming. It’s a noise beyond noise, pregnant with terrible possibilities. It’s the sound of the worst thing that can happen.
Okay, so I will belabor the horror for a little bit.
The gentleman who hit us (car on the right of the picture – that shit is fucked up) hopped out, surprisingly uninjured, and made statments tantamount to claiming responsibility (since then, his insurance has informed us it is not contesting the claim). My wife suffered a fractured sternum and my daughter received a considerable knock on the head. We spent the rest of the night at the hospital getting various bits xrayed and scanned. We will survive.
Hey, you guys? Remember to buckle up, buttercups.
The next morning, one of our friends we were visiting – he’s is a practicing Chinese medicine-guy (sorry Bill, I don’t know what to call you) – did this to me to help relieve the stress of the whole situation. I am normally a naysayer. An inveterate poo-pooer. A skeptic. And acupuncture has always seemed like mumbo-jumbo to me. But I went into the experience open-minded.
With the first needle entering my flesh, it was like a wave of tension passed over and through my body, exiting, the modulations of a diminishing electrical field.
I am now a believer. And, a customer.
Some professional news. Sometime in early fall I finished the first draft of the sequel to The Twelve-Fingered Boy. At the time, I was calling the book Incarcerado. However, my editor, the inimitable Andrew Karre, brought to my atttention the existence of a book called Carceron, so my titled was nixed for fear of confusion. After some brainstorming, we’ve decided on The Shibboleth as the title of the next book.
But the book, at that stage, was flawed. It was (and remains) the longest novel I’ve ever written, clocking in at 115k words. The ending was jumbled and the story arc needed work. Between discussions with Andrew (and feedback from my agent Stacia, who is a fantastic editor in her own right), we figured out a course of action. That course entailed me rearranging large chunks of the book. I figured the rewrite would be pretty easy, I’m just moving around stuff, right?
It was, in essence, a total rewrite of the last 50k words. I thought I’d be done by December 1. Then I thought by New Year’s Day.
I finished it yesterday, Jan 9th.
I liken the process of rewriting the second half of that novel to what I imagine Victor Frankenstein accomplished with his monster: taking large hunks of dead flesh, suturing them together artfully, and then imbuing them with life.
I just hope I don’t have to chase my monster into the Arctic to keep it from killing folks.
Yesterday was my daughter’s 12th birthday. She went to a Justin Beiber concert even though her head is still swollen from the car accident and she’s got a black eye. After my daughter left, my wife said she needed to talk to me. At first, I was nervous fearing I’d done something stupid, again.
Then, I was heartbroken.
Our favorite cousin and probably the closest family member to us was found dead in her Astoria apartment on my daughter’s birthday. Her name was Madelyn Lambi. She often came and stayed with us during Thanksgiving or Christmas and it was always a joy to visit NY and see her.
I can’t express to you how awesome a person she was. If you don’t know her, it’s hard to understand. She was brilliant, genius, good-hearted, funny, and kind. My daughters adored her. She was my wife’s blood, but I claimed her, whole-heartedly, something I don’t do very much of with my wife’s family. I have no idea how we’re going to break the news to Rojo and The Grunch.
My heart goes out to her mother, her brother and sister.
Here are a few of the most recent things she’s texted me. Even though she lived in NY and we live here, in Little Rock, she was part of the fabric of our lives. She called regularly, she texted us. She sent pictures of what cool thing she was doing, who she was with. She called and sent presents on birthdays. When she stayed with us, she was totally invested in our girls, all piled together on our big sofa, laughing and giggling and watching Doctor Who.
I was supposed to stay with her for NYCC, but I fell ill, so she made sure she texted me lots of pictures: her standing near Robert Kirkman, her at the Simon & Schuster booth holding up a poster for TDE, with her brother, Daniel.
So, you can see there’s been some ups-and-downs already to 2013. I have higher hopes for the rest of it.
I have two novels to write this year. I have two children to raise. Two dogs to feed. And, right now, too heavy a heart.
I guess I better get started.
That is all.
ADDENDUM: I’m disabling commenting on this post. The purpose of this was to inform those people interested in me, my work, but not drum up sympathy. I am a private person – I have my issues and personality problems, the whole internet has been witness to those – but pity parties aren’t my style.