Sunday, September 29, 2019

I Hate It When Other People Are Right (Brian Katcher)

I suppose every author who dares reread their published works has those moments where they wish they could rewrite a paragraph or a few dozen chapters. I'm sure whoever carved the Rosetta Stone looked back and thought 'Why did I use the squiggly lines there? The bird thing would have been much better.' But it by then it was carved in stone. Literally, in that case.

Out of all my books, the one I wish I could reedit the most is, ironically, my most successful and critically acclaimed: my second book, Almost Perfect, which came out in 2009.

The story deals with Logan, a boy smarting from a romantic betrayal, and his relationship with the new girl in school, Sage. When Logan discovers that Sage is transgender, he has a lot of intense and conflicting emotions.

While writing this book, I expected backlash due the topic (I believe this was the second YA book about a transgender person, after Julie Anne Peters's Luna). What I feared more, however, was anger from the transgender community, as I was writing about a topic I was unfamiliar with.

And there was a lot of legitimate criticism. While I never meant to appropriate anyone's life, my errors were mine and mine alone. So if I could speak to myself as I was writing the book, here's what I might suggest changing.

*The term is 'transgender', not 'transgendered,' though in the early 2000s, the terminology was not so hard and fast.

*I would have rethought the scene where Logan initially reacts to Sage coming out to him. In the book, he raises his fist, but stops himself just in time. I thought it was powerful and realistic writing, but in the end, it's never justified to think about striking someone weaker than you, be they a romantic partner or friend.

*The ending. I went back and forth with the my editor, trying to find something appropriately happy and yet intense. I'd always imagined Logan and Sage going off to college together, still friends, with their romantic future undefined. In order to make the book edgier, however, the book ended with Sage leaving town and Logan trying to get on with his life. In my defense, my editor was laid off during this process, and I was kind of left without much guidance while facing a deadline.

If I could do it all over, I think it would be better if Logan and Sage stayed in each other's lives, as friends, if not lovers. Logan asked for too many last chances, and I think if he'd stuck with her in the end, the book would have been a lot more positive. Unfortunately, what's done is done, and I can't rewrite the past, as it were.

I have an idea for a sequel, if any publishers are interested. Anyone?


  1. The ending was a tough one. I've always hoped for a sequel, but realized that might not be possible.

  2. What a bold and brave novel. I've been so afraid to write characters in spaced I don't inhabit. You've inspired me to do it.