September 13, 2011
Today The Only Ones is released. I’ll be running around reminding everyone of this fact because I want you to read the darn thing. Forgive me if I even show up at your house with a sandwich board and a blow horn. A man must do what a man must do. Now there’s plenty of information about The Only Ones on this web site, and I encourage you to read and watch and listen to it all. But today, the blog will be dedicated to the people who made this book happen and continue to make it “happenin’!”
Most authors include acknowledgements, and it’s always nice to read about the people who helped turn one person’s words into something lovely and tangible and available at your local bookstore. But as an author, choosing acknowledgements can be a bit of a nerve-racking experience. Part of you wants to thank everyone, from the friendly UPS guy who delivered all the marked-up manuscripts to the friendly obstetrician who delivered you into this world. Another part of you wants to cast a light upon the select handful of people who spent hours with the book, giving their best to make it better. It’s the big vs. small wedding debate. Neither is right. The guest list is always hard.
In my book, I went with the “small wedding,” but that doesn’t mean these were the only people who had a hand in the creation of The Only Ones. I’d like to expand the list here:
In July 2009, a painting called The Mainland by Jamie Wyeth sparked my first ideas for the book. In the year and a half of writing and editing that followed, there were countless other inspirations, 99 of which I’ve cataloged on Twitter via a #99inspirations hashtag. You can see them all here.
Cate Starmer, my astoundingly wonderful wife and greatest friend, is also my #1 fan and she’s always the first to read my work. In September 2009, I showed her the opening chapters to what was then called The Lonely Ones and she offered ideas and encouragement and the assurance that she believed in this book, and in me, and in us. She is, as I like to say, a wonder.
Stephanie Sun, then an assistant at Weed Literary and now an agent to be reckoned with, was the next person to read the beginnings of the book. She astounded me when she called it “beautiful” and confirmed that perhaps we had something here.
Elisabeth Weed, the super agent who so valiantly plucked me from obscurity, added to Stephanie’s praise and provided some invaluable suggestions regarding pacing and characterization. Then she boldly took the book to the streets.
Michelle Poploff, a legendary editor who has worked on bestsellers and Newbery winners (and who has written her own books), took a chance on the manuscript, seeing something in this strange story of loneliness and ramshackle adolescent creativity.
Rebecca Short, assistant editor extraordinaire, added excitement, depth and clarity to the tale with her thoughtful and essential edits. And she was the one who suggested the title switch. Because of her, The Lonely Ones now carries the more intriguing and fitting title The Only Ones.
Beverly Horowitz runs the show over there at Delacorte Press, a division that has published the likes of Lois Lowry, Judy Blume and Gary Paulson. I am extremely honored that she has welcomed me into the club.
Lisa Ericson, who I’ve known for over 20 years, came through in a pinch and created the sort of cover authors dream of. It’s an image that will be forever linked to the tale, and I couldn’t be happier about that.
Vikki Sheatsley designed the beautiful pages you find inside, the remarkable look and feel of the thing. There were so many signs, and notes, and journal entries, and bric-a-brac to layout, and she handled it all perfectly.
Jennifer Black is one of the finest copy editors and proofreaders I have come across. She made sense of my nonsense and gave the book a good scrubbing.
James Dashner of Maze Runner fame read an advance copy and gave me the invaluable gift of an endorsement. He’s a generous and jovial guy, and a grand master of the teen adventure novel. I was humbled by his words.
Jeff Kay, author of Crossroads Road and the man behind the inimitable West Virginia Surf Report, has been an advocate of my writing since we were paired up many moons ago to work on an ill-fated book for National Lampoon. A great guy to read and know, with fantastic taste in music.
Noreen Herits enthusiastically kicked off the publicity for the book before she answered the call of motherhood.
Deb Shapiro jumped in where Noreen left off, and has been a huge advocate for everything The Only Ones ever since.
Andrew Mittman has been campaigning for the success of the book from the moment he read it. If other readers have even a tenth of his enthusiasm, then this thing will do just fine. A perceptive and ambitious guy. I’m so glad to have met him.
Josh Berk went to college with me, but we didn’t know each other then. We met in the wild world of kidlit (he wrote The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin and the upcoming Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator) and he has been a humorous and encouraging colleague ever since.
Kurtis Scaletta wrote The Tanglewood Terror, which shares a publisher and publication date with The Only Ones. We traded interviews (here and here) and deep thoughts on each others books. Kurtis is an engaging, intelligent and passionate writer and spokesman for artistic endeavors. Follow and read him and trust his recommendations.
Matthew Cody, author of Powerless and the upcoming The Dead Gentleman, is someone I met way back in the DWEEB days (err…2009), and one day we’ll figure out a grand scheme that will combine our superpowers and conquer a bestseller list or two. A gentleman (and very much alive).
The Random House Sales Team can be found at their Random Acts of Reading blog when they’re not out on the road singing the praises of The Only Ones. Their love of books is infectious.
Patricia Schultz, who kept me busy during my downtime by putting me to work on 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. I haven’t seen all 1,000 yet…but I also haven’t died. Still a chance.
Daniel Kaizer and Darrel Schoeling of Longitude Books. They provided me with my ale and mutton by employing me for nearly 8 years, and now they’re graciously opening their doors for our release party.
Micato Safaris will take to Africa if you’d like to go. They are the best of the best. Give them a call. Tell them I sent you.
Fans of DWEEB. Including the kids of Washington Township, the Fresh Air Fund, the Manhattan Charter School and many others. It’s a weird little book, but a few of you call it your favorite, and that’s more than an author could ever ask for.
My friends (and their young’ns) here in Hoboken and beyond, including Greg, Amy, Caitlin, Andrew, Mary Kate, Ben, Joss, Jon, Chelsea, Amelie, Trish, John, Dave, Liz, Tom, Meg, Christian, Bridget, Joe, Grace, Caroline, Rick, Hui, Matt, Kim, Terence, Nick, Heather, Bill, Karen, Szabi, Erica, Sean, Jenna, Scott and many, many more…
The Evans, Totani, and Valocchi families, who always welcome me into their homes and give me food and drink and great times. They also spread the word about my books far and wide. Taylor Evans lives upstairs, steals from our fridge and keeps social media aware that I’m out there, punching the keyboard. Thanks T.
Jim, Gwenn and Peter Wells. According to the sitcoms, I’m supposed to fight with my in-laws. Sorry, but that ain’t the case. They are an amazingly supportive, caring and fun bunch. I am lucky to call them family.
All the Amundsens, Finneys, Glitmans and Van Scotters out there. There are a ton of them and they’re fiercely clever and talented people. Many of them, like me, have Viking blood. So watch out.
The Starmers and Lavenders: My Mom, Dad, brother Tim, sister Toril, brother-in-law Dave, and nephews Jacob and Will. You couldn’t ask for a better, more understanding and more proud and loving family. I’m going to cry now…
And finally, Mort, Phoebe, Webster, Haakon and the other beasts out there. If we all disappear some day, the world is all yours.