When a recent interviewer asked me if it’s really true that as a principle, seconds novel are tough, I hesitated. Yes, undeniably tough. But no, this new novel, The Detour, wasn’t exactly my “second” novel. Between my debut and this book, an entirely different novel and a few other partial manuscripts had languished: unfinished, unloved, and finally, unread by all but a few trusted souls. They weren’t rejected by a publisher. They didn’t even get that far. My first agent — with my own harsh internal censor as Kevorkian accomplice — pulled the plug.
No wonder, then, that I’ve always been drawn to the stories of other novelists with unpublished, unfinished, rejected, or simply abandoned novels in their past.
Read the entire essay, which includes words of admiration for some of my favorite authors — Mark Salzman, Michael Chabon, and Lionel Shriver — as well as some details of my 2005-2008 Mesopotamian novel (currently set aside, never fully abandoned!) at Huffington Post.