Monday, February 11, 2008

Depressing...No, Disheartening Is the Word

If you look at that little sidebar to the right, the one that lists all of the projects that I'm working on, and their various states of completion, you'll see a book there called Adora and the Distance. It's something I've been working on for a couple of years now, trying to find my way into it, stumbling my way through. Because it's unlike anything I've ever tried to write before.

It's about my daughter. It's about autism.

Well, sorta. It's about a girl who goes on a quest to save her mythical homeland from an invading force that threatens to destroy everything she holds dear. But beneath that gossamer, kid-lit fantasy disguise, it's about a girl trying to escape the imaginary-prison of her own mind and get back to the real world, and what she gains and loses in the process.

It is, needless to say, very close to my heart. It is the closest I—the dude who loves explosions and gratuitous nudity—will come to creating a story About Something. And it is, currently, falling on deaf editorial ears.

Every person I've told this story to has responded to it. Every editor I've pitched it to thought it was a really touching take on what's become a universal affliction. One of them said that it's a financial no-brainer: Sadly, this is a book with an audience, one that's getting larger every day. But when I went looking for a lit agent, not a one of the few who have any experience with graphic novels wanted anything to do with it. (One said "I'm not sure there's a readership for a book like this"; despite 1 in 150 children born today making their parents a part of that readership.) When I've been able to get the proposal to some publishers, I either got the "It's a children's book, and we don't publish those" or, "We only do children's adventures, and this doesn't quite fit" or "Intriguing...how about if we change these 58 things about it?"

I know, this is the sort of thing that confronts untold numbers of writers every day of their lives ("I've got this awesome idea and they...just...don't...understand!"). And, yes, there are publishers I haven't approached yet. I'm sure that if the book I was writing was "One father's autobiographical experience raising an autistic child" and it was black-and-white and maybe I also happened to discover I was gay in the process — then, I'd lock up a deal toot sweet. But I don't want to write that book. I don't want to read that book. I'm not that guy. I want pirates and swordfights and oracles and children realizing that the world isn't too big for them to handle. I want high adventure.

What I can't figure out is why no one else seems to.

5 comments:

Ken Lowery said...

Ah, fuck, that made me want to cry a little.

Samsmom214 said...

hey, Marc
for what it's worth-I'd buy the book in a heartbeat. keep trying!
of course, I'd also buy the book where you discovered you were gay, but that's just me:-)

irkstyle said...

all I can offer is the supportive but not particularly useful encouragement to keep trying. (I'm sure I'd be able to find lots of examples of books that took a long time to find a publisher if I wasn't too lazy to search...)

Anonymous said...

Try Jessica Kingsley Publishers

Matt Shields said...

Don't listen to THEM, keep listening to your heart dude. My little boy is autistic, too. We know he is so smart but he barely talks. We see him get so frustrated almost every day because he wants something but he can't tell us. If thats not a prison, I don't know what is.