We were at KFC after the service last Sunday, and we were talking about random things that have been happening here. Suddenly, she bursts out something about my book and how she enjoyed reading it. (I gave her an advance reading copy. No, there aren’t any more of those available. Sorry.)
I laughed and asked her if she was just being nice, because she knew me.
She answered my question by gushing about the characters in the book. She told me that she was now wondering what became of Cecille or how the main characters are doing. She told me the parts that she liked and talked about my characters like they were mutual friends of ours.
It was such a surreal experience for me, because for the three years that I’ve been writing this book, those characters and how their lives unfold existed only in my mind. And now, there are people who know them and their stories.
I once dreamed of this.
I used to say that one of my lifelong dreams was to finish a novel. I don’t even care if anybody reads it or not. I just wanted to finish. And now I have. And not as a ghostwriter hidden in the shadows, but as me. Joanna.
And I realize now that I do care. It means so much to me that she read it and seemed to enjoy it. It means so much to me that I got to tell her why Lance was written that way or why I don’t see him ever ending up with Malaya. I got to see her gush over characters and situations that for so long, I was frightened people wouldn’t connect with.
But she did. And she talked to me about it.
I don’t think she knew how much that conversation meant to me. My characters were no longer just in my head. They were in hers too.
To a writer, that’s amazing.
Especially when at some point, she paused and said, “Wow. It’s weird. I feel like I’m just talking to you about a book that I liked, but then I remember that you’re the author of the book, and it’s really really weird.”
It was weird for me too, but more than weird, I’m just thankful that I got to experience that. I truly am.
No matter what happens to this book, whether it becomes a hit or a flop, whether it even gets published (I’m in a state of confusion right now, because I don’t know whether to publish or wait)… I will always have that conversation.
Thank you for that conversation, Ate Eda. I will always remember it.