The pre-publication reviews of Cry Father have been good, thank God. Kirkus Reviews and Shelf Awareness, in particular. Which has been a big help when I’m awake nights hoping everybody doesn’t hate it.
I always forget how much sleep I lose when I’m waiting on a book to hit the shelves. I try not to worry about it too much and just keep plugging away at whatever project I’m working on, but there comes a day when you realize you ain’t gonna be getting anything done for the next few weeks. That’s when you give it up and start taking real long walks and spending more time at the firing range.
The thing is, I know what I write isn’t for everybody. Not by a long shot. I actually have a very specific reader in mind, and he dictates more of my creative life than I should admit. He’s a guy I used to work with in a factory about 12 years ago. He was somewhere in his forties, had a couple of kids somewhere who hated his guts, and had just got out of prison a year or so prior.
As far as I could tell the only two interests he had were beer drinking and reading. He read probably twice as much as I did, and he read everything. But he was a vicious critic, and he absolutely no use for most of what was out there. While we were on the assembly line, we’d talk books for hours, him just savaging everything he considered bourgeois, boring or full of shit. Which was, of course, most of the stuff I was reading at the time.
He’s who I try to think of when I get worried. Whatever anybody says, I think Ray’d like this one. That’s what I tell myself.
Of course, I have no idea if he actually would like it. I haven’t seen him in more than a decade. And, to tell the truth, I’ve spent so much energy rewriting him into my ideal reader and inner critic that God only knows if he’s anything at all like I remember.
But it does help me sleep.