AYSM - Cover With Quote 2

It doesn’t seem right, but it’s the fifth anniversary of Are You Seeing Me? coming into the world.

The little novel about Justine and Perry’s last glorious vacation together was released August 2014 and things would never quite be the same for its grateful author.

It managed to do amazing things, including this.

And this.

And even this.

Perhaps most impressively, it has managed to stick around, still getting read here, still being discussed there.

To celebrate AYSM’s continuing journey, I thought I’d share a little bit of the behind-the-scenes that shaped the novel we know today. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about AYSM.

It got rejected…A LOT.

The publication of my breakthrough novel Kindling with Hachette in 2010 was a dream come true, but unfortunately sales of the book were worse than waterproof teabags. The trickle down of that disappointment was AYSM had nowhere to go. And that’s how it stayed for three years, despite acquisition meetings, editorial phone calls, recommended changes, re-drafts, rejected re-drafts and a mile-long list of agents’ submissions. Then, to my everlasting good fortune, Random House got hold of the manuscript in December of 2013 and thought “By George, he’s got something here!” George, Darren, Derpface, they could call me whatever they wanted — the story had finally found a home.

It was almost published as adult literary fiction.

Early on in the three year span of futility, the manuscript caught the eye of a publisher at a major Australian house looking to grow their literary fiction list. “One of the best manuscripts I’ve ever read” was her humbling summary. Sadly, it didn’t get over the line in acquisitions, the sales number of Kindling proving the death knell (curse you, Kindling sales!). I do wonder from time to time what would’ve happened if Are You Seeing Me? had hit the shelves as adult literary fiction. For one thing, I doubt it would’ve been called Are You Seeing Me?

It had an extra narrator for a time. 

Readers of AYSM are familiar with the fact that the story is told by the twins and father, Dan, through ‘flashback’ journal entries. In the original draft, though, there was a fourth narrator: Leonie. The estranged mother had a voice of her own that went by the wayside during the novel’s transition to a YA tale. What did she have to say for herself? One of these days, you may find out via a post of those passages here on the blog…

It was originally titled The Mantle.

Then it was Finding Fault. THEN it was Master Disaster (that’s what it was when Random House came calling). THEN it became Are You Seeing Me? late in the editing process. I must confess: I have a soft spot for The Mantle. The lovely dual meaning — the mantle of the Earth where earthquakes occur, the mantle Justine must wear as caregiver…Are You Seeing Me? was the right title, though.

It may have a prequel(!)

The novel that followed AYSMExchange of Heart / Munro vs the Coyote — featured a ‘guest appearance’ from Perry and gave a glimpse into the twins’ lives five years on. In recent months, I have tossed around the idea of a possible prequel, exploring the span between Justine’s first letter from her mother at age sixteen to the starting point of AYSM three years on. The idea of spending time with the twins again appeals, but when that time might be…? Difficult to say. If I do decide to do a prequel, rest assured: you’ll be the first to know.

You can purchase Are You Seeing Me? here in Canada, and here in the States. The book is also available in all good Australian and New Zealand stores. You can buy it here.