Let me just get this out of the way right now: Working with the authors in Violent Ends was a dream come true. For real. As of right now, it was the very best experience of my writing career. I would crawl over a field of molten glass for the opportunity to work with each and every one of them again.
Clearly, I enjoyed working with these writers.
When I was working on the list of writers I hoped would agree to work with me on Violent Ends, I stuck pretty close to home. I knew many of the writers from my 2010 debut author’s group, some through my publisher or my previous agent. I first spoke to Beth Revis after reading her debut, Across the Universe, when I emailed her because I thought I’d figured out a secret in the book and I just had to know. For the authors I didn’t know, I was a fan of their work.
Actually, let me set the record straight: I am a super fan of the books written by every single author in Violent Ends. Knowing some of them helped me feel less awkward about approaching them, but the reason I hoped they’d write a story for me was because I think they’re all brilliant. There’s not a writer in this anthology whose books I haven’t read and loved.
When I’d gotten tentative agreements from the authors, but before we’d sold the project, I was so freaking excited about the possibility of working with them. There was a selfish little part of me that was psyched I’d get to read an original work by each of them before anyone else. On the day my agent called me to tell me we’d sold Violent Ends—after doing a little dance around my office—I remember having this moment of “Oh, shit.” Each of these authors is a master of their craft, and I realized I was going to have to edit their stories. I was like, “How in the world do I email Neal Shusterman and ask him to change something?”
I mean, I’m nobody. When we sold Violent Ends, my third book hadn’t even come out yet. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by their talent. I totally was.
But I shouldn’t have been. Each author brought their best. We worked together on-line, swapping ideas, sharing characters, bringing Kirby’s world to life. They were fun and professional and enthusiastic, even when we hit snags. Above all, they were thoughtful about the impact of this book. From the beginning, I wanted to make sure Violent Ends wasn’t exploitative. I didn’t want the book so seem like it was trying to profit from violence, and the other authors took that very seriously. They weighed in thoughtfully on each others’ stories, on the cover, on the title. Their dedication to this project didn’t end with their own story, and I can’t thank them enough for that.
When I first conceived the idea, I had a moment where I thought about writing it alone. It would have been easier—even though we had a great time, this was a lot of work—and I’ve always had a difficult time with group projects. But I’m glad I didn’t. The authors brought out the best in this project and in each other. Anything I’d written alone would have been a pale, poor version of what we accomplished together.
When it comes to anthologies, there are usually some stories I just don’t connect to. And I’ll tell you a secret: I knew all the stories would be well-written, but I fully expected to receive at least a couple of stories I didn’t connect to. That didn’t happen. And this isn’t just me spinning PR stuff. Every story in Violent Ends blew me away. I am so proud of this collection, and eternally indebted to the authors who brought Kirby’s story to life. I stand behind each and every story in Violent Ends, and I honestly believe this is one of the strongest collections of stories I’ve ever read.
None of this would have been possible without the authors who worked their butts and put up with me. I can’t thank them enough.
Anything readers may dislike about Violent Ends is my fault, but any successes belong to them.
If you want to learn more about the authors in Violent Ends, check them out at http://violentendsanthology.com/bios/