Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Now that I’ve gotten my feet damp in the blogging pond, I’d better start thinking about how the hell I’m going to sell multiple copies of Yesterday Road. Everything I’ve learned so far tells me that this ain’t gonna be easy. The ebook market is not built for literary fiction like this little book. At least not yet. So I have to figure out a way to play that market.
I’m already working on a description for the book suitable for Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and all the rest. Maybe you can help. As I develop it, I’ll post updates here for feedback, like a virtual focus group.
The problem is, this book is not easy to categorize, other than “literary fiction.” I mentioned that it’s a comedy, but not in the yuk-yuk, Judd Apatow sense. More in the sense that order falls into chaos and then back into order, with plenty of funny bits along the way. So one thing my description will have to do is appeal to readers who aren’t necessarily searching for something like this. It will be like the quiet puppy at the pound who doesn’t yap and squeal. He just looks up at you through the bars with those giant syrupy brown eyes. Awwww. How can you resist?
My protagonists in this book are unique. The primary one, Jack Peckham, is an octogenarian with a form of dementia that erases his memory at the end of each day. He sets out from San Francisco to find his way home to his daughter, but progress is halting because of his condition. He’s a little like a Mr. Magoo, getting in and out of dodgy situations by sheer luck. He’s motivated entirely by this drive to get home (not unlike Dorothy, come to think of it), but he’s going to need help.
Enter Joe Easterday, a 31-year-old with Down syndrome who has been on an independence-building trip through a DS support group. Joe is taken with Jack for some reason and manages to shake off his supervision to hit the road with him. Soon they meet Ida Pevely, a fortyish diner waitress in Elko, Nevada, who realizes she has to, first, reunite Joe with his parents (she happens to be the single mother of a Down syndrome child herself and knows what Joe’s folks must be going through), and, second, somehow get Jack to his daughter or — more likely — back to whatever institution he wandered away from.
Things begin to go wrong immediately. You can imagine.
So it’s clear that the book is fraught with things that can sink it, or let it fly. It’s something of a fable, since realism is stretched big time, but it’s also a classic picaresque with appealing characters and a twisting plot. It touches on issues with a certain niche interest, like Alzheimer’s and Down syndrome, which might offer avenues for marketing it (with appropriate sensitivity). The challenge will be how to find the right kind of reader in the ebook realm, where the inordinate favorites seem to be fantasy, horror, YA, crime, and sci-fi.
There is an abortive drug deal in Yesterday Road, though, which puts a cool hundred grand in Jack’s hands. And there’s a hapless carjacker, and — did I mention — DiCaprio!