SEND was published in 2012 and marked my young adult literary debut.
I worked on this novel for YEARS! I think I wrote it at least six times over, each time getting a little better. I was so sure this would be the book that would be my golden ticket to living the dream.
And I was right.
It helped me land a two-book deal.
SEND is a novel about a former bully trying hard to cope with the suicide he caused when he was thirteen. It's told from the bully's point of view. It's a story of forgiveness and redemption. I'm pretty darn proud of this book and when I got the call that Sourcebooks Fire was interested in it, I did my celebratory dance and then got back to work.
My publisher had some concerns with the manuscript. They felt it was far too violent for the age group to which it would be marketed and asked me to rewrite the ending. There is a love story in this novel so I wrote the happy ending such stories usually have. But my editor said, "Hold up here... this character did a terrible thing and yes, he goes through a profound redemption arc, but should everything come up roses for him?"
I considered that for a long time and decided that no...things should not be perfect for him. He's 18 when the story opens. He's had five years to think about what he did, and though he spends his life trying to make up for it, he knows nothing can ever fix it.
The story is about forgiving himself. Would an eighteen-year-old be capabable of this?
No, I decided.
So, I write a cliff-hanger ending in which the main character's finger hovers over the Send key, while he deliberates about sending an email to the love interest...and then, fade to black. Readers could decide for themselves whether he clicked that button and got his happily ever after, or not.
I loved the new ending but readers, sadly, did NOT. Reviewers on Goodreads shook their fists about it, I got mail that begged for information, even my kids wanted me to write more.
Eventually, I did write more. I posted a Missing Epilogue to my website where I have a "Dan's Blog" page for SEND's main character. If I ever get the rights back to this novel, I plan to incorporate it into the new edition.