Freckles is out--YAYAYAYAYAYAYAY!!! Most of the reviews are good--not the ones posted on Amazon, but I swear, the ones excerpted under the book info are real too ;-)
Most of the people who liked Freckles took one look at that adorable puppy on the box and knew what they were going to get.
And regular guys, of course. With a little bit of a life lesson thrown in.
And that's the fun thing about winter holiday stories-- you can write absolute pure lemon yellow fluffy and not feel bad about it. It's like that chocolate marzipan your mom makes and you pig out whenever you're near it. It's Solstice, eating sweets doesn't make you a bad person.
That being said, Freckles was possibly the lightest thing I've ever written. When I look at Winter Ball, for instance--that was also pretty happy golden yellow. Except when it wasn't.
Yeah--there were some painful moments in that book--some unexpectedly tender times when Skip and Richie made my throat close up and brought me to tears. The scene where it's raining and they're laying in bed and Skip tries to tell Richie he loves him--just typing that hurts my heart a little. But the scene where Skip has a coughing fit on the soccer field--that makes me crack up. Every time.
And I've always known I've written on a continuum. There were some genuinely funny moments in Keeping Promise Rock. Even Beneath the Stain had some moments that made me smirk. Mackey-- God, such a smartass. (When Blake cried on him for forty-five minutes--God, pure karma.)
I don't think I've ever felt that knife edge between laughter and tears so acutely as when I was proofreading Summer Lessons.
There are some moments in this book that rip my heart out. I'm not expecting them. They're not like Crick and Deacon moments, when the world is coming to an end. I'm writing the next Fish Out of Water right now and Jackson is gutting me like a goddamned fish--pun not intended, but not bad, really.
This is different. These aren't super-heroes like Jackson or Deacon. There is nothing larger than life about them. But one minute they're okay and the next minute you see into the painful, unnoticed tragedies that we fall victim to in everyday life. They don't make headlines, and even when they're talked about, the day to day of them doesn't really hit you--even if you're one of the people living with the problem.
I think that's why I love Mason and Terry's story so much. These are everybody's problems. These are the people who never get their story told--and that doesn't mean they don't hurt as much as everybody else, it just means they don't see themselves as special enough to even have a book.
But shouldn't we all be special enough to have a book?
One of the nicest compliments somebody paid me about Freckles was that Sandy and Carter felt real. REAL. They were people you could walk into as you crossed the street in the morning. Even when I'm writing rock stars or stock brokers or horse ranchers or private detectives, I like to think these people are real. The have soft and vulnerable sides and funny sides and weaknesses and strengths. I guess that's why this whole marketing idea of the three different flavors of Amy was so late in coming. For one thing, I write EVERYBODY.
I write everybody.
Life on a continuum. From the profoundly happy moments of looking into the soulful eyes of your first dog...
To the small painful moments of telling your best friends that they're your best friends even when you don't seem to fit...
To the big crashes, like in Beneath the Stain or Keeping Promise Rock, where the lives of the everyday man assume the grandeur and richness of a Shakespearean hero doomed by his own flaws.
So I guess that's why I'm always surprised when people hit my extremely fluffy or my extremely dark and talk about "This isn't my favorite flavor of Amy Lane."
I know to an outsider, not skating the rails of my inward ponderings, they probably seem like very different flavors.
But to me, it's white chocolate sliding to chocolate so dark light cannot escape its surface.
All chocolate is delicious, right?
But not for some people--Mate, for example, thinks dark chocolate is a stain on mankind's candy-making blotter. I think white chocolate needs to be on a pretzel.
But I like that books like Winter Ball and Summer Lessons have both flavors swirled together--but distinctly enough to taste.
This makes me very happy.
I hope it makes my readers happy too.