An Open Letter Of Appreciation To Kelly Braffet (and brief review of SAVE YOURSELF)
I was going to email this to Kelly, but decided it would also serve as a good review of the book and I haven’t reviewed nearly enough good books this year and other people need to know about this great book and this great author.
I started reading SAVE YOURSELF with the best of intentions many months ago. Unfortunately my editing work and poor time management skills made it impossible to finish yours, or any other books for nearly a year. At first I didn’t notice any ill effects. I was reading plenty of great stuff in manuscript, though most of it was science fiction, fantasy, and romance as opposed to crime fiction, which is the genre I love. But as time went on I found my own writing falling by the wayside, first by time constraints, then by a lack of focus and interest in any of the projects I was working on because my creative tank was empty. I was spending all of my creative energy on my editing work and not replenishing it with the reading that is so vital to the creative spirit.
Around this same time I was coming up on five years (the same amount of time you worked on SAVE YOURSELF) since I’d finished the first draft a crime novel that has nearly been the death of my writing career and sanity a number of times. It almost ruined my honeymoon because I was so angry at not being able to figure it out and I actually shut down my blog for several months because all I was doing was complaining about not being able to figure this damn book out. I’ve tried a bunch of fixes to get this novel straight, even going so far as attempting it as an urban fantasy novel. During this time I wrote another novel, a caper novel that I’m quite proud of but didn’t really challenge me, but I always kept an eye on this other novel wondering if I was finally strong enough to fix it.
It wasn’t until I finished SAVE YOURSELF that I finally felt invigorated and inspired enough to get back to work on it and make the hard changes that need to be made to make it work…hopefully. The thing that I’ve always had trouble with in this novel is the characters. I’ve known for a long time that for this novel to work it needs to be a multi-viewpoint third person novel but I kept it as a first person novel because the lead character is the only one I felt confident enough about to work with. I’ve also had rotten luck attempting third person novels because my voice always gets lost and my empathy for my characters evaporates. But reading SAVE YOURSELF was such an amazing experience and your talent with characters is so deft that I desperately want to try my own hand at it now.
For almost my entire reading career I’ve been inspired more by first person novels and first person voices, but the character work and atmosphere in SAVE YOURSELF is so astonishing that it finally broke the spell of my first person obsession. For the first time ever in my writing career, the voice in my head started narrating in third person and I’m ecstatic. I might finally have cracked the code on this book of mine and I have you to thank for it.
You deserve wide-spread acclaim and a better class of admirers than myself, but this is what I have to offer and I hope it inspires others to check your work out and be as invigorated and inspired as I was.