Looking Back #7: A story behind the story

I’m counting down to the publication of The Unbreakable Code with highlights from the past two years since Book Scavenger was published. So much has happened in such a short time, and I’ve been so busy trying to keep up, that I’ve neglected to share many of the big and small moments. So here we go, in no particular order . . .

* * *

In Book Scavenger, Emily recalls once finding Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach hidden through the book-hunting game. I chose that book for her to find because it’s a title I think Emily would really like, but there’s a more personal reason as well.

I dedicated many years to writing Book Scavenger and hit a lot of walls and moments of doubt along the way. Sometime around 2006/2007 I was struggling with pulling together the novel the way I imagined it in my mind and, as often happens (for me at least) when something is hard, I wondered if all my effort would even be worth it. Would anyone want to read a book like this if I could actually execute it the way I wanted to? Then I picked up Shakespeare’s Secret by Elise Broach. She did exactly what I was trying to do–a story that balances both character development and plot, a mystery that incorporates true historical facts, memorable characters, humor, a well-written page turner . . . I was so excited about her story and inspired by her writing it reignited my passion for Book Scavenger. I dove back into my work determined to figure out how to tell my story, regardless of what the ultimate outcome would be for it publication-wise.

When my agent submitted Book Scavenger to publishers, she sent me the list of editors who were receiving it. The name Christy Ottaviano rang a bell, but I wasn’t immediately sure why. I looked her up and you know what’s coming, don’t you? She was the editor for Shakespeare’s Secret (and all of Elise’s wonderful novels).

In case you missed it:

Looking Back #1: Re-visiting my alma maters

Looking Back #2: Meeting my editor

Looking Back #3: Meeting Ann M. Martin

Looking Back #4: A Memorable San Francisco Trip

Looking Back #5: Steves and pencils

Looking Back #6: Atlanta Book Group