On Finishing The Solitary Tales

I'm finishing the fourth and final book in my teen series The Solitary Tales this week. I still can't believe this idea has resulted in close to 400,000 words detailing Chris Buckley and his time in a creepy North Carolina town called Solitary.

The idea began in Greenville, South Carolina when I showed up to a busy bookstore one Sunday afternoon for a booksigning. I saw the poster outside but the name and the time on the poster were wrong. Somebody else was signing at this store on this day. I discovered the mix-up and politely told the staff that it was fine. Since my aunt had dropped me off at the store, I decided to go next door and grab a bite to eat.

It was there while sitting outside on the patio eating chips and salsa and sipping on a margarita that the idea came to me. Take a teen moving to a creepy town down south who falls in the love with the wrong girl. I mapped out the story right there and filled a few pages in my writing notebook.

The idea was like the 100 other ideas I've gotten which have potential. Fortunately, a few other things happened.

A publishing executive championed it despite the fact that there's absolutely no interest in supernatural teen fiction in the Christian market.

I was able to work with my longtime editor who has done ten of my books.

David C. Cook let me tell the story my way. This includes the writing style--short, choppy, sometimes even stream-of-conciousness-like. This includes the darker stuff mixed with pop culture references. And of course this includes that ending for book one.

This series has morphed into something more. Sales-wise, it hasn't done much. I'm probably more to blame than the publisher. Publishing novels all over the board, having twins right before book one was released, releasing a book a month before book two was published. But . . .

I think this is a pretty awesome series. Love it or hate it, it's got a truly original voice. The storylines might be familiar, but the way it's told is definitely unique.

I love The Solitary Tales because, in essence, it's my nod to my teenage years. I could share all the ways how, but that's only important to me. The story is what matters. Chris Buckley's journey matters. The mysteries that unfold, the characters who come across his path, how he evolves and changes and grows up.

I'm really curious how people will judge the series in its entirety. But I'm not worrying about that. There's absolutely no pressure on me. If each book had sold two million copies, I might be worried. But I'm not. I think I'm going to do a pretty awesome job ending it.

Whether the rest of the world will feel that way, or even bother to check it out, remains to be seen. All I can do is try my best. And that's what I'm doing.

It's going to be nice to get out of Solitary for a while. Series are fun but they are still a lot of work. Especially ones with a hundred unanswered mysteries. I answer a bunch of them. Maybe seventy-five or eighty.

April and September of 2012. They'll be here before we know it.

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