Anyone one who has ventured to write a book can tell you it is a journey. A journey with many dead ends, missteps, stomped toes and the occasional rejection-letter mugging. A journey that, to quote J.R.R. Tolkien, goes ever, ever on. After passing through the Golden Gate of the Book Deal, the debut novelist continues on the journey, through the Quagmire of Revision, the vast, parched Wastes of Waiting for feedback, the foggy, slightly toxic Swamps of Reviewland, and up the blog tour/buzz building slope to the great pinnacle of THE RELEASE PARTY!!!!
Melanie Crowder’s amazing new book PARCHED is also about a journey. The journey of two kids and a group of dogs that must seek out water to survive, and a landscape made harsh by drought and human cruelty.
Both Melanie and this wonderful book have a journey yet ahead of them as the book enters the world, finds its readers, encounters all the ups and downs a new book and author experience in the world.
But before we go there, let’s reflect on the road we’ve been on shall we? And by “we” I mean Melanie and her book. Okay, actually, I just mean her book. Because while poor Melanie was chained to her desk, slogging through the metaphorical land of Publishatopia, her book was seeing the world. Her ARC (Advance Reader Copy) was too hot to stay put. Much like the characters within its pages, PARCHED ventured out, seeking what it needed to survive:
It seems to have no trouble on all fronts. It started in Boulder, Colorado, where Tara Dairman and her cat enjoyed it thoroughly. Given that the one of the main characters is a dog, the fact that the cat enjoyed it is a real testament to the quality of this book! Here’s what Quincy and his pet Tara had to say about the book:
“Even though a dog is a major character, Quincy gives PARCHED two paws up, with bonus grumpy stare for the water warlords who menace Sarel and Musa. (Please don’t tell him that the dog chapters were his owner’s favorites in the book!)”
After devouring the story in a single afternoon, Tara passed it on to me, Jeannie Mobley. I took it out to the edge of a drought-starved lake and fell into its story of beauty and ugliness, hatred and friendship, struggle and triumph. An amazing, thought provoking read!
Then I sent it on to a land less PARCHED than my own, the Pacific Northwest, where it was enjoyed by Jeanne Ryan and Laurie Thompson
As for Laurie, she says:
” I have a terrible memory. Most characters and plot lines, however enjoyable and engaging at the time, slip right through soon after I’ve put the book down. Not so with PARCHED. It has stuck with me, and will continue to stick with me for a long time. In addition to the story itself, I think it is because there are so many contrasts in this little book: the violence and brutality of the action versus the poetic, beautiful language; the harshness of the landscape versus the tender love between Sarel and her dogs; the drive toward self-preservation versus the will to be compassionate. I love that it isn’t exactly clear where or when the story takes place, which makes it feel like it could be anywhere at anytime, and somehow that makes it feel that much more real and immediate. I don’t think you can read PARCHED and not have a heightened appreciation for the water, safety, and–of course–dogs in your life.”
After a stint in the cold, moist part of the world, PARCHED decided it needed an environment a bit more familiar, so it set off for San Antonio, where it was enjoyed, along with a little cat poop, by Anubis, Boots, and Josh (although how many indulged in the cat poop I can’t say for certain). Click on the image to read their five star/four paw review.
But wait, the dogs aren’t the only ones with an opinion! Josh says:
“In a blurb, I read that it’s intended for 10-14 year olds, but this is definitely one of those books that transcends age. Spare yet complex, gut-wrenching yet heart-warming… yeah, it’s one of those books. Plus, you know, it’s got a dog POV in it. Nuff said.”
PARCHED next traveled to New York City, where Laurie Crompton took it out to Time Square. (About this time, Melanie was at her desk writing blog interviews and filling out her publisher’s author questionnaire. Ah, the glamorous life of the novelist.) Next time, Melanie, chain the book to the desk and you take the trip!
It continued along the East Coast to Maine, where, unlike it’s main characters, it found ample water in the L.L. Bean fish pond. Anna Boll, it’s hostess in Maine, designed a teacher’s guide. Of the book, she says
“the beauty of the writing and the characters will hold on to your emotions and not let go until you’ve finished the entire story.”
She, however, did let go of the ARC, which made its way to Claire Caterer in Kansas City, where water lingered in the form of snow.
Snow or no snow, PARCHED didn’t leave Claire cold. Here’s what she thought:
“In spare, perfect sentences, Crowder conveys the emotions of these two children and even Nandi, the dog leader who shares in the narration. The detail is sharp, for all its ambiguity. The story is beautiful, for all its stark reality. It’s not a difficult read, but it is a deep one, one that kids and adults alike will not forget.”
After spanning the country, PARCHED was still restless. After all, it had found water, met dogs, and even impressed a cat, but lets face it. The L.L. Bean fish pond hardly seems a worthy body of water for a book destined for greatness. It needed more.
So, here it is one more time, at Rome’s famous Trevi fountain–a water source befitting the artistry of Melanie’s book. What’s that in my other hand, you ask? That is my coin, which I threw, according to tradition, with my right hand over my left shoulder so that my wish will come true. And my wish? That great things will come for Melanie and her book. Not that magic wishes are needed for that to happen with a book this good!
Congratulations, Melanie, on your stunning debut, a book that will leave readers thirsting for more!
Where to buy PARCHED: