It’s been a big week for a certain Mr Shepard. Monday marked the release of Boone Shepard’s American Adventure, my second published novel and second in the series, and the very next day saw the announcement that the first book has been shortlisted for the Readings Young Adult Prize. So yeah, it’s safe to say that things feel pretty great right about now.
Anyone who knows me knows how long Boone Shepard has been around; from a weird novella I wrote in 2008 to binge writing the first drafts of four books over the course of 2014, to the publication of the first book last year and now the second, he’s never really gone away. He exists as a strange anomaly among the rest of my writing; not as comedic or dark as many of my plays, or as twisted and Machiavellian as something like Windmills, and yet, while there’s very little else in my body of work that is similar to Boone, his story is probably my favourite. Seeing two books side by side last night in a bookstore I’ve loved since I was a kid, and seeing him side by side on a shortlist with books published by the heavy hitters is surreal. When I was a teenager nobody thought this idea was worthwhile. Before it was published, most of my friends had zero interest in reading about him. And yet, stubbornly, Boone refused to go away and bit by bit people are noticing.
Last year’s launch was wonderful, but I think I felt a bit overwhelmed by everything. Last night was much more relaxed; we still had a great turn out, but separated from the stress of it being the first time I think I just felt like I could enjoy myself more. It was one of those nights that just leaves you feeling content, and the announcement of the shortlist consolidated that. Things have never looked better for Boone, and to boot I’m extremely proud of American Adventure.
That’s not to say that I wasn’t proud of the first one, but much like the difference in the two launches I think there was less pressure on the second book, and with the world and characters established it was easier to just have fun with it. I’ve written at length before about the long, tangled process it took to get American Adventure right, but re-reading it in published form the other day really brought home how much I feel like I got this one right, like it’s every bit as funny, action packed, and heartfelt as I wanted it to be. Of course, my opinion is just slightly biased, but you don’t always feel like you actually achieved what you set out to with a piece of writing, and in the case of American Adventure I think the many drafts and endless reworkings really paid off.
So what now? Well, thinking about books 3 and 4 is probably premature, but that’s what I’m doing. Plus ongoing discussions linger in the background about potential TV, stage and phone game adaptations, so it’s not like there’s ever any respite from the Boone Shepard business, a business that is starting to feel more worthwhile than ever before.
For now though, I think I’m going to give myself a few days to relax, enjoy the moment, and hope that people like American Adventure. But as always, the next adventure is just around the corner, and part of me can’t wait to get cracking.
Actually who am I kidding. All of me can’t wait to get cracking.
Writing words about writing words.