I had a good talk with my agent about I am Anna Winkler yesterday. She started off by saying she doesn’t usually like this kind of book because it confuses her, but she liked this one because everyone in the story is confused, too. Confusion is part of the story. So that’s good.
I sat there with an empty notebook ready to list all the problems she had…and she had a few, but not as many as I expected (I only filled about half a page with notes). And nothing I hadn’t thought of myself or heard from the sixth graders I read it to last year. I’m looking forward to getting the manuscript back with her notes.
There are several things I expected her to bring up that she didn’t bring up, so we’ve been continuing to discuss via e-mail. One element in particular bothers Teen quite a bit. He buys the main idea of the story, but he doesn’t buy this one very crucial element. So I was sort of relieved that my agent didn’t mention it…but I also know that she’s not a huge science fiction person. Neither am I, actually. But Teen is REALLY into science fiction, and he’s a good reader and critiquer, so I can’t completely discount what he says, even if my agent doesn’t mention it as a problem. So in the interest of full disclosure, I mentioned that element in an e-mail today.
She said she thinks people who are sticklers about things like this are basing it on real scientific theory and maybe that’s why Teen is having such a problem with this element?
Yes…I’m sure that’s it. Teen buys that the main part of the story “could” happen…but this other thing? He says it doesn’t make sense. It just couldn’t happen. Sigh.
So I told my agent, “I think of this as more ‘science fiction for the masses than genre science fiction anyway.’” (i.e. I’m not really writing for the hard core science fiction people here…I’m writing for the more general audience.) But that comment “gave her pause.” She’s still interested in the book, but she says that publishers like things to be “genre specific.”
Gulp. So now what? Do I pretend I’m a real science fiction author?
She also sked if I had other “science fiction people” besides Teen who could look it for me. I do…my “tough critique group” pretty much consists of science fiction people…and me. But I’m not really ready for them to see it yet. (I don’t think.)
I’ll just have to keep thinking, I guess…and keep working on Teen to help me figure out a way I can keep this element in the story so that it’s believable. Fortunately, I have another Boxcar book, a revision of Truth About Truman and a sequel to Monkey Man to be working on…I seem to figure things out on one book when I’m hard at work on another…