I’ve been a bit phobic about promoting this novel. I have no idea why — maybe because it’s been a couple years since I had a release, and the nerves are setting in. Call it “avoidance” — I’m trying to avoid it all, like it’ll go away — but it won’t and that’s silly, because a book release is something to be celebrated. I wrote a book about characters that I love, and it’s hitting shelves in a couple weeks. Maxine Kiss and her demons are back.
I finished writing this book in a hotel room in Sydney, Australia. I’d had dinner the night before with the awesome Justine Larbalestier and her husband, Scott Westerfeld (who fed me a home cooked meal and took me on an amazing walk of the city) and I remember telling them I had to get this done, that I had a deadline, and even though I was stressed I also felt great determination.
I was stressed because the ending still hadn’t been written. But I sat down the next morning at the hotel room desk, and began working. At least, that’s how I remember it going. This is how stories mutate, folks. At any rate, what I’m pretty sure happened is that I worked — worked like crazy — took a break in the day to go find a good dim sum restaurant, brought back leftovers and a bag of grapes, and then settled in for more work. I worked until the sun went down and ate the leftovers. I worked until it got late. I turned on the television once, just to watch a broadcast of a book talk show — and then settled in once again at the computer.
I don’t drink coffee, but I called down for my first pot around ten pm or so. The kid was super sweet and could tell I was frazzled. I ordered my second pot of coffee at one in the morning. Same kid brought it up, and now he could tell the shit was getting real. Two and a half hours later, when I ordered the third pot of coffee (and a salad), he also brought up chocolates — to keep my strength up.
Not to mention I had Tim Tams.
Yo, I drank three pots of coffee that night. And I hate coffee. By six in the morning, when I typed THE END, you could have bounced me off the walls. My hair was standing straight up. Also, the ending of my novel sucked. It sucked so bad I wrote my editor and was like, “Hey, let me fix this. After I’ve slept for the next fourteen hours.”
Of course, after all that coffee, you could have shot a brick at my head and I would have shrugged it off. I lay in bed, exhausted, frazzled — and absolutely unable to chill the hell out. I couldn’t even close my eyes. I’d run the marathon, hit the finish line, and didn’t know what to do with myself.
So I went to the zoo.
It was good to be out in the sun, exploring, taking my mind off the work. Finishing a novel is emotional for me. Or maybe just the opposite — I go a little numb. I don’t know what it’s like for other writers, but I feel adrift. I should be celebrating, but usually I’m just lost. All that time and nervous energy, poured into a project — and then, boom. It’s done.
Back in Indiana or China, I might take a walk. Just walk and walk. I guess I did the same in Sydney. I walked (and rode a boat) until I felt like myself again. I sat on the edge of a park and wrote postcards. I can’t remember what I had for dinner that night, but I’m sure it was fine. I definitely recall hot chocolate.
And that’s how I finished writing Labyrinth of Stars.
I want to hear from you, though. How do you feel when you’re done? Where were you when you finished writing your book? Tell me your story.
PS: I was remiss in not telling you all that it was the amazing Australian Romance Readers Association who supplied me with the Tim Tams. You guys saved me — and the book!