Revision: An Artist's Statement

As of today, Revision has been out for six months. OMG! Has it been that long? ...Has it only been that long? 

To celebrate, I wanted to do two things. One is announce a price drop! Revision ebooks are now $4.99, available for Kindle, iOSNook, and Kobo. Maybe buy it if you haven't? Maybe leave a review? 

Beyond that, this seems like a good moment to reflect on how Revision has been received, how I feel about it, and a little bit about what I was trying to accomplish creatively.

First: reception. I really couldn't have asked for a better set of reviews. I got a freakin' star in Publishers Weekly! NPR Books liked it! Even Kirkus was super positive! This was very much the best-case too-good-to-really-hope-for scenario. 

The book hasn't made me wealthy, mind. It's selling persistently, which is really wonderful; if I'd self-published, sales would have stopped dead about five months ago. Nonetheless, a debut author and a debut press with limited marketing bandwidth can only do so much, so selling hundreds of thousands of copies was never plausible. We're definitely punching above our weight class, though, and I am very pleased all around.

And now, if I may, something in the way of an artist's statement. In particular, I'd like to address the most common topic in reviews of Revision: whether or not Mira (the protagonist and narrator) is likable.

I started writing Revision in 2009 during the throes of Racefail, and my subconscious was steeped in the scorching hot issues of race, class, gender, sexuality. The subconscious, it leaks into your work, it turns out. As such, Revision is very much a not-even-that-thinly-veiled metaphor about coming to terms with the ugly fact of your own privilege, even if you don't want it. How you can't walk away from it, even if you're trying.

A lot of reviewers weighed in on whether Mira is likable or not; and many of them further noted that the requirement for a female protagonist to be likable is a little sexist. I have realized, with great soberness, that likability of my female characters is something I'll have to consider more thoughtfully in the future, with an eye to selling more widely.

But this book in specific couldn't have come from a likable place, or been about a likable person. The emotional arc of Revision is very much about how someone who has advantages in life has the power to ruin everything for the vulnerable people around her, while remaining personally more or less unscathed. It's not a kind story or a nice story or a fuzzy story, but it's a human story: the paths people take to noticing the suffering around them. The way someone might need to suffer a little first to be able to recognize it in someone else.

It's a very honest book. Honest and painful and yeah, probably unflattering.

Beyond that, there are other things I was trying to do, like paint only in shades of gray. Nobody in this book is purely evil, nor purely good. Truth and morality are ambiguous creatures anyway -- human constructs that don't exist outside of our minds.

And in a move that I was afraid would make nobody ever buy the book or take it seriously, the voice embraced a downright aggressive femininity, and I tried to be brutally honest about what it's like to be a woman in the world, too. It was important to me to include friendship between women. Bad, complicated relationships. The terrible decisions people make out of fear, convenience, comfort, simple short-sightedness. 

There is some wish fulfillment about burning down a server closet.

It's a book with a lot going on under the hood, is what I'm saying. And the kicker is, it's not at all on purpose! For all that I'm telling you what the book is about now, that was all the doing of my busy, busy subconscious. I 100% thought I was writing a fluffy action novel in that first draft. I imagine you can read it purely as an action novel, too. But then I guess you... might not like Mira so much. She's not really a model human being. Though who among us is, in our heart of hearts? 

Anyway. It's a book! I am very, very proud of it. I think it's solid work. If you haven't picked it up yet, well! It officially costs only as much as the proverbial latte these days. Give it a shot?

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