Cover Reveal of Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
I’ve been writing books since I was eight years old, and for most of my life, I wrote just for myself. I wrote because I had stories in my head, and I wanted to see how they’d end. I wrote because I loved to play with words. I scribbled my books, and bound them in scraps of wallpaper, and then I put them in a drawer. That felt fine.
Of course I dreamed of publishing and becoming an author someday, but that seemed unlikely. Certainly, for most of my life, I never expected to be paid for my writing.
Then I was fortunate enough to sell my first book, and several books after that, and my life changed in many ways. I was, obviously, overjoyed. I worked with amazing editors. I traveled. I met my own favorite authors, my heroes. The experience was a dream come true…
Except that something happened along the way, inside me. I stopped writing for myself. I sold books on proposal, which meant I owed those books to someone else long before I’d finished writing them. Which meant that I was trying to guess what someone else wanted. Which meant I was no longer listening to myself. I began to dread sitting down at my desk each day.
So I took a deep breath, and decided to start over. Just as I had done when I was eight, I sat down with a pencil and a notebook. I got out paints and colored pencils and drew maps and characters (badly—I’m no artist). I promised myself that I wouldn’t show anybody anything until I had a full draft, until I knew in my heart what I wanted the book to be. I followed my instincts, and set aside all thoughts of selling the manuscript. I only had one goal—to write for myself again, to play with words, to find the love.
That took about a year, and some days I thought I was crazy, as I fiddled with my art supplies and my hand cramped from writing by hand. But slowly, I fell into a story, into a world of my own imagining. My characters came alive inside me. I began to talk to them as I fell asleep at night, exactly as I had done when I was eight. Slowly, I found myself living on an island, with a herd of children, magical winds, bonfires, wild kittens, and starfish fields.
I knew that I’d done the right thing. I felt like me again, like a writer again. I felt like I’d flipped a switch inside myself. I felt true. But after all that work, the book was a strange one, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to publish it at all. I had to accept the possibility that my island might remain a private island, for me alone.
And yet, somehow, here it is! It did find a home, with an editor who saw what I saw in my dreams, who felt the pull of the ocean breezes and the sand beneath his feet too. Here it is now, a book! With this absolutely ethereal cover that makes me want to cry. Isn’t it a kind of magic—how an idea becomes a story, and the story becomes a book, an object? How we can dream things into existence. I am lucky. I am very, very lucky. I am so grateful.
And I hope you’ll all love this book, my Orphan Island. But if you don’t, that’s all right. You don’t have to love it. I wrote this one for myself. Because sometimes, a girl needs to go it alone. Sometimes, a girl just needs an island.
Laurel Snyder is a poet, essayist, and author of picture books and novels for children, including The Longest Night, Bigger than a Bread Box, and Seven Stories Up. She is also the editor of the nonfiction anthology Half/Life: Jew-ish Tales from Interfaith Homes, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a commentator for NPR’s All Things Considered. She lives in Atlanta with her family and can be found online at www.laurelsnyder.com.