February 22nd, 2021 marked ten years since I first published my YA novel, Fear and Laundry.
It’s strange for me to think about that.
Back then, I was reading a lot of YA, and while the books were brilliant and I enjoyed them, I kept wishing they’d feature characters who reminded me more of me and my friends as teens. There were, it seemed, no books to be found anywhere about girls growing up in West Texas who were into horror movies and rock music and hung out at a laundromat that doubled as a punk rock venue.
Go figure 😊.
I did read one novel featuring secondary characters who sorta started to come close, but then…it turned out they were supposed to be the losers in the story. I remember being amused by that and thinking, “Maybe I oughtta write a story from the POV of the ‘losers,’ then.”
Around that same time, I read a biography of Kurt Cobain (Heavier than Heaven by Charles R. Cross), and for a while after I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cobain and how I wished his fans had had the opportunity to tell him in person just how much he and his music had truly meant to them.
Years prior to that, I was at a club show in my hometown, where a member of the headlining band (who were not local, and who shall remain nameless) stepped up to the mic and said he and the rest of the band had spent much of the day driving around, checking out our fair city. The audience cheered at this…but then this guy sneered and went on, “What a [bleep]-hole! Take my advice and get out of here as soon as you possibly can.” Pretty funny, yeah, but also horribly rude. Whether he meant it or not (I got the feeling he really did), the comment always stuck in my memory.
My only point in relating all of these seemingly random anecdotes is to say that the inspiration for Fear and Laundry came, as it does for all stories, from all over the place and over the course of many years. The book is peppered with tributes to cultural influences that, for better or worse, helped to shape (warp?) my young mind. It is a love letter to the nineties as I remember them, and to many of my teen self’s favorite things.
As the ten-year anniversary of the book approached, Steve and I started talking about celebrating it in some way, maybe with a special re-release. Because what says punk rock and DIY better than a 24-karat gold-plated edition, amiright?!
Okay, so maybe that was just an April Fool’s Day joke.
(The digital two-book set is a real thing, though, and includes all-new inner artwork created by Steve. These are his interpretations of some of the fliers, t-shirts, and other ephemera described in the text. Speaking of which, I resisted the temptation to revise the text of Fear and Laundry again [I’d already done that once, in 2013], so, yes, both the book and its follow-up contain rough edges. But they are stories about punk and DIY, y’all—the form fits the content 😉!)
What is no joke to me is how humbled and grateful I am to still be here ten years later, still writing, and knowing that — unlikely as it might seem to me—people continue to read about Veronica Montez and her pals.
If you are one of the kind readers who has ever offered your time and attention to these books…Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Fear and Laundry 1 & 2 may not be autobiographical, but they’ve allowed me to share bits and pieces of my own story. Believe me, I don’t take that for granted.
Now I can rest easy knowing that, now and forever, there will be at least one book out there about an odd little teenage girl growing up in West Texas who likes horror movies and rock music and hangs out at a laundromat with her friends. Whew. Just what the world always needed, I’m sure 😉!