I remember the first time I ever saw you. A picture scrawled on one of my school books, as I was trying to figure out the character to lead a new adventure series I wanted to write. You looked older then, with a goatee and cropped short hair. As I began to see you clearer, all of that changed though. You became younger, more wide eyed and innocent. Back then, you rode a massive tricycle and you spoke in this verbose, flowery way that I thought sounded sophisticated and intelligent but actually just made you (and, by association me) seem like a tool.
Maybe that’s why people didn’t take to you. Your stories were ‘too unrealistic’ and I should ‘go back to what I’m good at’. I never meant to take their words on board, but they didn’t help when it came to coming up with new adventures for you. I always wanted to take you to so many places, but the ideas just didn’t seem to be there, and so for years you sort of remained at the back of my mind, someone I always wanted to revisit but never quite got around to doing so.
It was only when the right person read those old stories and reminded me of how much I loved them and you that I came back to you, and for a year and a half we adventured together as I started your stories from the start and went beyond those high school scribblings, taking you through hell and back, finally bringing you to the conclusion I always wanted. Five books, and maybe the most fun I’ve ever had writing anything. One big, complete story that I finally finished.
Tomorrow you’re going out into the world. It’s slowly dawned on me over the last few days that this is a real thing that’s happening; looking at your name on the cover of the book sitting on my desk is still so surreal, but there it is. Tomorrow people will be able to take you off shelves, open the front cover and finally meet you, after so long. Maybe they’ll like you, maybe they won’t. I hope they do, because we still have the rest of your adventures to share with the world, crazy journeys with Marbier, Promethia and all the other characters who will make their bows alongside you tomorrow.
I don’t know what will happen going forward, but I’m so excited to see. Tomorrow I’ll be a published author and, eight years after I first met you, Boone Shepard is leaving my brain and laptop and heading off into the world. Your humour and heart and inability to plan ahead and your fundamental goodness in all the worst situations will all be there on display, and all we can do is hope that you strike a chord.
But if you don’t, it doesn’t matter all that much. Because I loved every second of writing about you and you may just be my favourite thing that’s ever come out of my head. And whatever happens after tomorrow, you’ll still sit on my bookshelf.
I’m so bloody proud of you. And of myself for getting to this point. Maybe the best part is that after all those pages upon pages of crazy stories, it feels like our adventures are just beginning.
Writing words about writing words.