I often say I don’t love writing, I love having written. As I’ve refined my process and gotten more confident as a writer, I’m learning to love the act of writing a bit more. But that statement was definitely true for my debut. Writing Temper was a long, painful process. There was crying, tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth. I wondered—not just once, many times—whether I should quit. But something kept me going, kept me coming back to the next blank page and the next, until it was done.
And I’m so glad I wrote this book! Not just because it’s the book that led to the fulfillment of my longtime dream to become a published author, but because it’s a book I wanted to read, and now I can. I still do read Temper, regularly. Every week or so, I’ll pick up an ARC or open the manuscript up on my Kindle and read a chapter or two, just for the fun of it. Because I adore this book and its characters so damn much.
Here are some of the things I love most about Temper:
The “unlikeable” women – I love unlikeable female characters so much I started a podcast about them, and with Temper I got to bring the nasty, uncompromising leads of my dreams to life in Kira and Joanna. I’m so glad that, at no point in the writing, revision, or submission process, did anyone insist I needed to sand down their rough edges or make them nicer. They’re both horrible bitches, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Kira & Spence – This is something I’ve gotten a fair amount of pushback on, actually. Some readers have been confused/unsettled by the unconventional intimacy between Kira and her roommate/best friend with benefits, Spence. She and Spence sleep together, but they aren’t in love, and they’re both okay with that (trust me, the consent is very enthusiastic). Nontraditional though it may be, their relationship is my favorite one in the whole book, and in a lot of ways it’s the emotional core of Temper.
The Chicago references – I managed to squeeze in so many shout-outs to real locations in my adopted hometown. Characters eat at Lady Gregory’s, shop at Myopic Books, see a show at the Neo-Futurarium, and walk along the lakefront path at Foster Beach (just a few blocks from my apartment!). All these references might slip right by readers who aren’t familiar with Chicago, but I love that I was able to pay tribute to my favorite city in this way, and I hope any fellow Chicagoans who read Temper will get a kick out of it!
It’s hard to imagine loving another book as much as I love Temper, but I know I’ll get there someday. I’m currently in the process of falling in love with a new project, and as much as I’m enjoying it, there’s a sense of loss there, too. I miss spending time in Kira and Joanna’s heads, I miss the backstage drama at the Indifferent Honest Theater Company, and I even miss hanging out with Malcolm Mercer (that bastard). The trade-off is that readers are starting to discover Temper now, and hopefully some of them are falling in love, too.