Without doing a formal poll I remain reasonably confident that for most writers, pub day is more a source of stress than celebration. There is a certain joy the first time you see the thing bound up and put together but it does not last long and anyway you get your author copies a few months beforehand (or your parents do; my apartment in Brooklyn is too small to maintain a proper shrine to myself). The actual day of release seems to serve primarily as encouragement for strangers to say mean things about you on the internet. Those Above has been out for a few weeks now and the reviews have mostly been kind, but of course pain is more unpleasant than pleasure is enjoyable (Epicurus based an entire school of philosophy around this concept), and you don't know masochism until you've checked your Amazon sales ranking ten times in a single hour.
Something else writers rarely mention is when they finally get around to releasing your book you generally have grown kind of lukewarm to it. If books are children then Those Above got her MFA six months ago and now just mopes around the basement, skyping her long-distance ex-boyfriend and hitting me up for grass money. 'I've done all I can for you,' I want to say to her. 'It's time to strike out boldly in the direction of your dreams, or at the very least sign up for a temp agency and sublet a room in the city, any city, really, it could be on the west coast or even abroad, Santiago is very nice.'
Or something like that. This metaphor kind of got away from me.
So, because I could use the reminder, here are 5 nifty things about Those Above, which is, put simply, about the attempts of humanity to overthrow the nation of god-like pseudo-immortals who have kept them in bondage for uncounted millennium.
1. Those Above Is Ambivalent
More a question then an answer, or actually lots of questions; about power and about justice, about the degree to which the latter is anything but the arrangement of the former, about the limitations engendered to us on an impossibly fundamental level by the cultures we inhabit and the time in which we live. The narrative is unsettled and so are the themes. A negative review I saw recently read, 'it is hard to know who to route for,' though I confess I took it as a compliment.
2. Those Above Has Women In It
Several, in fact! Those Above was my first time working to an extended degree with a female viewpoint, and I found it challenging and rewarding. That doesn't mean that you'll find it either of those things, of course, but if you were one of those people who read Low Town and thought, “it was good but it would be better if most of the female characters weren't prostitutes,” well, here you are. Two of the four POV characters are female and neither of them are prostitutes, which will probably win me some sort of medal from the National Organization for Woman.
3. Also, Sword Fights
I like sword fights, sue me. I always did and I still do. They were fun to write and they're (hopefully) fun to read.
4. Those Above is Different Than Other Things I Have Written
The Low Town series was swift and sharp and mean, and Those Above is long and languid and meaner. They would be shelved in the same section of a book store but apart from that they have very little in common. I admit I take a certain sort of pride in that. I never wanted to be the sort of writer who wrote 18 books about the Warden, where nothing significant ever changes except that every so often he gets a new magic weapon. And for better or worse, I haven't. Writing She Who Waits was comfortable and relatively easy. Writing Those Above was exhausting and often painful and forced me to stretch myself in different ways.
The upside to all of this is that if you didn't like Low Town you are guaranteed to like Those Above—because they're opposite, get it? You see.
(If you did like Low Town, don't worry, this last entry was just a lie to hook in the rubes.)
5. Those Above Has One Very Good Dick Joke
But I don't want to spoil it.
Of course I could make a list of five things I don't like about Those Above, but that probably wouldn't do much to buy sales, which was the point of this whole exercise, after all. Please, buy her. Things are getting very tense in the house these days, and her mother wants to turn her room into a second study.