Apples and oranges, anyone?
She, like many readers, had an idea of what to expect when she opened the pages of Going Under based on a previous work of mine. She expected something like Good. And it’s okay that she had certain expectations. That’s human nature to set a bar for subsequent works by an author we enjoy. It’s also human nature to expect the same thing from that author. Kind of like opening a can of Pringles. You expect that they will be every bit as delicious as that last can you opened. You can count on consistency. You can count on the same great taste.
Well, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t count on anything when it comes to my work. Why? Because every single story you read of mine will be different. Vastly different. Many of my early diehard Hoodie fans didn’t take to my second novel, Honeysuckle Love, at all. Why? Because the stories were on opposite sides of the spectrum, and fans were anticipating another Hoodie-esque work. Sorry to disappoint. After Going Under made its debut, there was a lot of pressure to produce another Going Under-type story. But I knew there was no way in hell I was writing another Going Under. That was a special book written at a specific point in my writing career. To try and duplicate it would have been disastrous, not to mention completely offensive to me and my readers. But nevertheless, that was the expectation. And I didn’t meet it.
I wrote a story about a heroine so very opposite of Brooke that one could be seen as the good angel on the right shoulder and the other as the bad angel on the left. The story also introduced themes and tropes that the indie book world doesn’t much like. You could say I swung all the way to the other side with the Too Good series, and I regret none of it. Here’s why: If I had to produce the same story over and over again, I’d most definitely put those stones in my pockets I talked about in an interview. I’d pull a Virginia Woolf in a heartbeat because writing for me is not about pigeon-holing myself in any one kind of genre or one type of story. That's boring to me, and I really don’t like to be bored. Moreover, one of the most liberating aspects of being an independent author is the ability and freedom to write whatever I want!
I like fresh stories. I like a challenge. I like creating newness because life is filled with enough repetition. Life is filled with enough of the mundane. So my stories will always reflect something different. Not one will sound like the other, and I intend to keep it that way. Now, in saying that, I will also add that the one constant you can count on in my work is good writing/editing. I think that throughout my works—as different as they are—their one commonality is my voice. That won’t change, and you can expect to always hear me in my work. But you will never read another Cadence. You will never read another Brooke. You will never read another Anton.
Incidentally, the reviewer settled on four stars. This was her way of reconciling her expectations of Going Under with what she actually got. I chuckle thinking about how she would react to Hoodie. For those of you who’ve read the book, you know what I’m talking about. And yes, as different as my stories are, I wrote them all. I am the same author who posed as an eighteen-year-old black boy from the ghetto, a self-absorbed justice-seeking eighteen-year-old girl, an impressionable and naïve seventeen-year-old who fucked her 28-year-old teacher, a poverty-stricken sixteen-year-old with social anxiety. All of them are me—my stories, my hard work—and they represent a growing library of works that are as different as the cultures of the world. Let’s see if I can keep going.
You just finished reading the Too Good series. And I can make this one promise to you: You can expect nothing like it with my next work.