So, this is a book that I wrote. It’s called AS I DESCENDED, it’s a retelling of Macbeth starring queer girls and ghosts, and as of today, courtesy of HarperCollins, it is officially out in the world.
And, you guys… I love this book so much that seeing it like this kind of makes me want to cry.
I wrote the first draft of this book back in 2011. (Yes, that was five years ago. Sometimes that’s how publishing works.) I remember it all very clearly, because so much was happening in my life then. I wasn’t published yet – my first book deal was in 2012, and that book wasn’t published until 2014 – and I was writing purely for the love of the story. For the love ofMacbeth, in this case. It’s always been my favorite Shakespeare play, and as soon as the idea showed up in my head – a retelling of The Scottish Play with teenage girls in the roles of both Macbeth and Lady M – I was immediately obsessed.
This is also the book I was writing the summer I met my wife, Julia. She’s a fellow lit-major nerd, and we spent an hour on our third date talking about Shakespeare, including my very early ideas for how I was going to adapt Macbeth (which isn’t Julia’s favorite, btw – she’s a Hamlet girl). Through the whole conversation (and, honestly, all our conversations), I could feel this low buzzing sensation, the knowledge that something very unusual and important was happening here. The fact that we were talking about Shakespeare only heightened it.
The summer of 2011 was also when I went to the Lambda Literary Foundation’s emerging writers retreat (which was a freaking amazing experience, which was how I met lots of incredible people including my now-good friend Anna-Marie McLemore, and which you can apply for here for next summer). I workshopped my first draft of AS I DESCENDED there, around a table full of queer writers. It was something I’ve never experienced before or since – as though my community was lifting up my book, and me. Holding us, giving us hope, giving me a profound sense of belonging.
And in my mind, all of that is wrapped up in this book. That gorgeous cover, those bizarrely real pages are infused with those experiences and so many more.
Writing this book was amazingly hard, amazingly fun, and amazingly terrifying (I don’t believe in ghosts but they scare me nonetheless). And having it exist, in physical form, with people reading it who don’t even know me – I have so many feelings about all this I fear they’re about to spill over and take on physical form.
This afternoon, my baby and I (a lot of things have happened in the past 5 years, you guys) will take the metro to Barnes & Noble to see this book a shelf for the first time. And someday years from now I’ll tell my daughter about the book I was writing when I first met her other mom, the one I edited while she was in utero and put the finishing touches on when she was just a few weeks old. And she’ll probably tell me to stop being so embarrassing and demand to use the iPad. (Which by that point will probably be, like, a space iPad or something.)
But right now, I’m not quite ready for that. First, I might just take a second and have a little cry. All on my own.