flashback

1

When I was a student at Queen’s University (in my cold and sprawling Canadian homeland, still several years away from moving to California) I came into the friendship and under the influence of two other aspiring writers — both guys — one of whom was a year younger than me, while the other played the older and allegedly wiser role. We wanted to write, we practiced our brooding, we weren’t published in any meaningful way whatsoever, we didn’t have any helpful contacts in the industry, we were a little in awe of Steven Heighton, the local poet/novelist who was in the process of achieving national acclaim.*

Flash forward a decade. Kevin Armstrong was the first to break through with his short-story collection NIGHT WATCH (Penguin Canada). And now Adrian Michael Kelly comes out with a literary novel called DOWN STERLING ROAD (Coach House Press) the same month my BLOODANGEL (Roc/Penguin) finds its way onto shelves.

So three very different types of fiction — different publishing experiences — different paths taken, and god knows what the future holds for any writer. But in terms of first books published, Kevin, Adrian and I are three for three. Which might suggest that perhaps, with enough will and psychotic determination, enough work and time invested, the odds of publication start to bend a little more in your favor.

2

Every now and then a business magazine puts my husband E on a list of one kind or another. Today he’s on ‘The Envy List’ of ‘People We Envy Most’ because his profession — space — is ‘cool’ and E has both ‘geek cred’ and ‘biz cred’ while still being ‘annoyingly young’. Moments ago he was whistling at his computer and informing me who is to be envied alongside himself. “Jon Stewart. Hey, J, I’m on a list with Jon Stewart.”

“That’s pretty cool,” I allowed. “Definitely good company to be in.”

“Mario Batali.” (E knows I am sadly addicted to the Food Network).

I hated to do it, and yet I couldn’t resist:

“Kevin Federline is also on the list,” I said.

“Well.” He had to pause. “This is true.”

* He was hot. This did not go unnoticed.

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