Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Elevator Pitch

As a writer, few things make me squirm more than that dreaded question: "What's your book about?"

It took me a couple years to write The Night Train. Non-consecutive years, that is. At least six drafts of "not what I want it to be" before the major rewrite that made me fall in love with it. Years, not months. Years. So what makes you think I can tell you what it's about in the time it takes to drop from the fourth floor to the lobby?

Could it be that I'm not so accustomed to elevators? I grew up in a small town in North Mississippi. The only elevator I remember riding before I turned twenty was the one at the hospital, and it only serviced two or three floors. We didn't stay in hotels when we went on vacation. We stayed in a camper, a cabin, or a motel with a door that opened into the parking lot. Few had stairs, let alone an elevator.

Yes, I realize the term elevator pitch seldom involves an elevator. More often than not, for me, it's the friend, relative, co-worker just found out I wrote a novel and never saw it coming pitch.

So what is my novel about?

My stock response is something to the effect of, "it's about an abused boy who runs away from home aboard a freight train." But it's about more than that. Yes, Jayrod is abused by his father, bullied at school, humiliated by his teacher, and neglected by his mother, but that's not all the story is about. It's about life. Jayrod just happens to be abused. He is still a boy. He still has good days, happy times -- just like other boys.

The Night Train is about overcoming adversity. It's about fear. It's about courage. It's about selfishness. It's about selflessness.

The Night Train is about life -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. Parts of it are funny. Even abused kids laugh sometimes. It's not a rant against child abuse. There are no statistics embedded to convince you child abuse is real. Jayrod just happened to be abused and I just happened to tell his story.

The Night Train is available for your Kindle and in paperback

Now, what was your question?