The Mirror Man was released just about a year ago. I remember waking up on that Tuesday morning thinking I would feel somehow ... different. After all, this was the first time I had woken up as a published author. And it was a long time coming. I'd sold the book nearly two years earlier. I'd spent months with my editor refining and revising the thing until we were both happy. There were proofs, line-edits, refining the cover art, seeking blurbs from established authors for the back cover. So much had gone into the book. So much of myself. It had been both a struggle and a labor of love. I was extremely proud of this story. I still am. But when I woke up that morning I didn't feel the slightest bit different. Not at all. Of course, we were in the middle of a global pandemic. Maybe if the world had been normal and I could have had that launch party I'd always dreamed about, or done a live reading and book signing in front of people, it would have felt more exciting. Instead, I got up, made the coffee and took the dog out to pee.
Then I opened Twitter, thinking I should probably tweet about it. And I saw that writer friends -- the great majority of whom I had never met in real life and likely never will -- were already doing it. And that's the moment I felt like an author. I was humbled and amazed that so many people were out there celebrating my debut. Every author who had given me a blurb was tweeting and retweeting about it. The incredibly talented James Anderson Foster, who narrated the audio version of the book, was hyping it complete with an audio sample. Readers who had received an early copy were tweeting links to their blogs and reviews. It was overwhelming to me.
Later that night I had a launch event over Zoom with Sylvain Neuvel (author of The Themis Files, A History of What Comes Next, and more) who had so graciously offered his time to help me celebrate with a conversation about the novel. After the zoom event, we shared a zoom beer and chatted for another hour on our own. He remains a good friend.
A few days later I was informed that another author, Wade Rouse (aka Viola Shipman), had chosen The Mirror Man as the October release he wanted to discuss on an event organized by A Mighty Blaze (a collaboration of authors dedicated to supporting debuts released during the pandemic). I was amazed that Wade had selected my book as we write in completely different genres. And it turned out to be one of the most memorable conversations I've ever had. (You can watch it, by the way, on this website.)
I have been thinking about all of this over the last few days in the context of the recent New York Times article titled "The Bad Art Friend and The Kidney Person" -- which is a long and bizarre expose of two writers who got into a heated conflict. It involved plagiarism, lawsuits, wretched chat sessions where a group of writers bad-mouthed another writer relentlessly and - you guessed it -- a kidney donation. It was a weird and oddly riveting story that had virtually all of writer Twitter taking sides and offering comment on one side or the other. And it put a spotlight on something else I've discovered since being published: There is an awful lot of infighting and petty competition among authors. Whether it's traditionally published vs. independent self-published or POC authors vs. white authors, or genre against genre ... there is a lot of it. And it can get mean.
Thankfully, that sort of thing is easily ignored because for every snarky remark there are a hundred examples of writers lifting each other up, offering advice, commiserating on pitfalls and celebrating successes. And that's what I focus on. And that's what I try to do for other writers. Because on that October morning last year, when I wanted to celebrate and feel like a real published author, it was fellow writers who made that happen. I still have to take the dog out to pee, but now I do it with a little bit of swagger in my step.
As an author I write adult speculative fiction with a thriller element. As a person, I write about all sorts of things