It's a funny story, really.
It was 2010 and I was pregnant with my twin boys. I had been having the most vivid dreams - and they were freaking me out. I called my friend over (who happens to be a licensed therapist) for "coffee"... because I was pretty sure I was losing my mind. I told her about my nightmarish dreams. They'd be situated in my real life, but with some horrible twist - like I'm at work on an average day, but I have no arms and no legs. I'd wake up in the morning and it would take me a couple of minutes to sort fact from fiction.
"That's totally normal!" she assured me. "Pregnant women commonly have very vivid dreams that they remember into the next day". Something to do with elevated hormones. Evidently, it was magnified by the fact that I was carrying multiples.
She suggested I read fantasy fiction before bed as it might set my dreams of on a different topic. It was great advice. Though I hadn't read much in the genre prior, I became an avid consumer of YA. I read everything from the Twilight series to Hunger Games to A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (so good if you haven't read!).
Before long, I was out of things to read. By then, I was on bedrest - so took my one outing I had been allowed that day to head to the bookstore. I stopped at the information desk to get advice on which aisle to start wandering down. I said, "Where should I look for something like Twilight mixed with A Discovery of Witches mixed with Night Circus?". Instantly, the woman at the desk thought I was an idiot. Snarkily, she said "those are three different categories; horror, historical fiction, and literature".
Clearly this gal wasn't too keen on giving out information without a fight. I decided to try another angle. I started describing a story.
"What if there was a girl on a cross-country journey. Maybe a little older - like 17 or 18. Maybe she's being haunted by a ghost or something... but it's not cheesy, you know? There's magic just behind the vail, but it's kind of realistic - so as the reader, I might be able to believe... even just for a moment... that this could really happen..."
As I yammered on, all pregnant and emotional... the "information" desk woman turned away from me and went back to reading her incredibly pretentious non-fiction book.
I was so mad! I thought, fine! If you won't help me, I'll write it my damn self! I stormed out (let's be honest, waddled out), went home, and started writing. A week and about 40,000 words later, I realized this was turning in to something. I stayed up late and wrote - purely stream-of-consiousness style. The story was pouring through me. I picked up a magazine for novelists for tips and tricks. The first thing I read said "you shouldn't start writing a novel until you have a story in your head that just has to come out". That was the moment I knew I'd finish it. The story just had to come out!
Fast forward a year or so. The twins had arrived and were thriving. My first draft was done. My best friend Nicole and I traveled to several of the destinations I wrote about in the book to authenticate the logistics. What would the train ride be like from Connecticut to Manhattan? When Nova walked at night in Ocean Park, what would she see? How long would she walk? Book research had become a passion project all it's own.
I enrolled in some creative writing classes at Oxford on YA novel writing and polished up my draft. Then, I recruited friends and family to read the manuscript. 30 brave souls agreed, signed NDAs, and joined a Facebook group with me. They read the manuscript and provided valuable opinions and feedback.
When I felt like I was "done", I researched the process of submitting inquiries to publishers and agents. By then, it was fall of 2013. I queried over a dozen different places. In response, I got a lot of rejections, some silence, and a couple of publishers who said they weren't looking for a book like this one right now. After that, I kind of put it to the side and moved on. Things with my band had picked up and we were off playing music.
Then in July of 2018... one publisher was in fact, looking for a book like mine. I submitted the manuscript and signed a publishing deal a couple weeks later.
NOW the real journey begins!