ENOUGH WITH THE TAUNTING. I’m finally going to tell you about my third book! But before I do, I want to tell you a little about why I wrote it and what it means to me. BEWARE, PEOPLE. I’m about to be a little serious, but there will be evil bobbleheads at the end, so it’s totally worth it.
Those of you who follow my random internetty things probably know that I’m married. I call my husband Slayer because of this one time he saved me from a swarm of killer bees. (The full and humiliating story is here if you want to read it.) But before that, we were just friends who played Ultimate Frisbee, until he stopped showing up. He’d been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. He was 19 years old.
The details aren’t mine to tell, but suffice to say that the prognosis wasn’t good. At all. But Slayer is stubborn as all get out. He didn’t give up, even when it seemed like there was no reason to keep trying because there was no hope. He went through hell, but he survived through a combo of terrific medical care and sheer bullheaded WILL. More than one person called it a miracle.
We started dating just as his hair was growing back. There were a few setbacks and health scares. There was survivor’s guilt. And sure, I did what I could, but I always wished I could do more to show him how much I admired him for being the kind of man who will not back down regardless of the odds. In my mind, that kind of man won’t let you down. That kind of man is a keeper.
He changed his major from engineering to pre-med. And then came miracle number two—the treatment had supposedly destroyed his chances of having children. Our son was born in 2003. (And let me tell you, the conversation where you tell the inlaws that their “sterile” son is your baby daddy? AWKWARD.) Our twins followed in 2006. (And the conversation was much less awkward that time, in case you were wondering.) He’d beaten the odds once again.
Then he became a pediatric oncologist. He works side-by-side, quite literally, with the doctors who saved his life. And more than anyone else, he knows what those kids are going through. Sometimes he’s the only one who can reach them, because he UNDERSTANDS. And true to form, he won’t give up on them or on their families, no matter what.
With all this in mind, it’s probably no surprise that I have a strong emotional reaction to cancer books. And it bothers me that with a few very notable and very awesome exceptions, most cancer patients in YA either die or are broken. I’m not saying that the death stories aren’t important, because they absolutely are. Those kids absolutely deserve to be heard and remembered. I’m just saying that I want more stories about the other side of the coin. There are people out there who more than anything need to hear about the successes. I wanted to see a story about a former cancer patient who not only survived but THRIVED.
So I decided to quit whining and write one.
It’s the book of my heart, the one that was so hard to write and so incredibly worth it. I was so thrilled to hear that it officially sold a couple of weeks ago, although I don’t yet know when it will be released. I owe a special round of thanks to my agent, Kate Testerman, and my editor, Wendy Loggia, for throwing their support behind it.
And thanks always and forever to Andy, aka Slayer, my own personal hero. Woven into this book are bits of his story, and I am so grateful to him for trusting me with them. If my heroine Casey is half a kickass as he is, then I’ll consider it a job well done.
The book is called DEMON DERBY. It’s about a cancer survivor who becomes a demon fighting derby girl. It’s full of roller derby, and ninjas, and Kong Tut, and foam parties, and bad guys with 80s hair, and hot avatars in gaudy Hawaiian shirts, and evil bobbleheads. It’s about realizing that your old life might be gone, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make something amazing happen. It’s about taking risks and falling in love against the rules. It’s about falling down on roller skates. It’s about getting up and skating some more. It’s about owning the fact that you’re bald and you have scars and some people can’t look past that. And it’s about how lucky some people are, because they see the real you, and that person is a heckload of awesome. It’s about standing up to all-encompassing evil because it needs to be done. And did I mention there are evil bobbleheads?
Casey Kent is a girl who won’t back down regardless of the odds. She reminds me of someone I happen to be married to, except he never drew on his bald head with a hot pink marker as far as I’m aware. I can’t wait for you to meet her.