The Story of a Story
This is the story of my novel, The Freezer—where it came from, how it evolved, and how it got published. I'll try to be brief, because this story might be more complex than the one told in the novel.
It began in the 1990s. A teenage girl had an unusual dream. In the dream, the world was about to explode. To survive, she and her brother climbed into a chest freezer of the sort many people have in their homes or garages. The freezer was thrown into space by the exploding planet, carrying its occupants safely to land on another planet. The inhabitants of this planet were kind and lived in a utopian society.
In late 2000, I met the dreamer of this dream. In 2001, we were married. I don't remember when she first told me about this dream, but sometime after the birth of our first child, maybe even the second, I decided to adapt the basic premise of the dream—the freezer spaceship—into a screenplay for a short film, which I would then shoot. I had an interest in film and a new digital camcorder. It would star me, my wife, and our young daughter. I made some notes on 3x5 cards, which I still have somewhere. I was going to shoot it in and around our house, and the story would be simple but emotional. I never got around to finishing the screenplay.
In late 2008 and early 2009, the economy went into a major recession. The price of copper tanked. The economic dominos fell such that my employer laid off most of its employees. I kept my job, but was reduced in hours and pay by one fourth. Suddenly, I had Fridays off. I saw it as an opportunity, and started writing novels in earnest. I even began waking up at 5:00 on other days to spend time writing.
I finished the novel I'd started as a teenager. Then I wrote another novel about teenagers with superpowers—and rewrote it. I wrote a novel called Drivers about suicide and unmanned vehicles.
We had three kids by this point; the second was about the age my oldest had been when I envisioned making a film. I still liked the idea, so while I was sending out the manuscript of Drivers to agents, I started turning the ridiculous dream into a novel.
On September 17, 2009, I started a new file on my computer. It's in a folder named "Deep Freeze-Novel of Flying Through Space in a Freezer". The file is called "Chapter 1-One Way Mission". The story is basically same, but the characters are named Elizabeth and Kevin Roberts. Their daughter is named Amanda.
June 12, 2012, I exported a draft of the novel now called The Freezer to send to critique partners. I don't remember the details of those nearly three years between, but I do remember that drafting this novel was much more difficult than Drivers had been. I flew through Drivers. I slogged through The Freezer.
The 2012 draft was entirely in the form of letters between the dad, now named Thane Ryder, and his wife, Dawn. (One of those letters still remains, at the very beginning of the book.) In subsequent drafts, I rewrote it to be standard first person. There were things I wanted to do that didn't fit into the correspondence format.
I revised. And revised. And revised. I think I ended up rewriting most of the manuscript. In 2013 I sent it out for more critiques. In 2014, I sent it to agents.
I must have sent it to fifty literary agents. I got only a couple of requests to see the whole manuscript. No one wanted to try and sell it to publishers. So The Freezer was shelved, along with Drivers and my other novels.
In 2019, I opened The Freezer and read straight through it. It had been long enough that it all felt new to me.
And I loved it.
Most of it. I did rewrite some places and make some edits. But I knew I couldn't simply abandon that story. It had, in the end, turned out nearly exactly like I had wanted it to.
Having had no luck with literary agents, I decided to try small publishers directly. That's how I met BCC Press. They responded with an offer to publish almost immediately.
It actually made me a little suspicious. I'd never heard of a legit publisher being so ready to publish a manuscript. But BCC (By Common Consent) Press is sort of a side-hustle to a side-hustle for most of the people involved. The contract they offered was good, and legit. So I signed in late 2019.
And then we all know what happened.
I'm talking about the pandemic. What I don't know is what happened to my manuscript at BCC Press during 2020 and 2021. Nothing, I suspect. I don't think they had enough volunteer labor to work on it. But in 2022, things started moving. I got notes from an editor. I made more revisions, and I have only myself to blame for how long they took.
In 2023, the good people at the publisher did the typesetting, cover design, and everything else to get the book ready for print (and ebook), while I twiddled my thumbs instead of creating a marketing plan.
August 13, 2023, my siblings ask me when my book is coming out. I shrug and tell them I don't know. Soon.
August 14, 2023, my book is available on Amazon.
And that's the story! Well, the first part. You see, a few years ago, my wife had another dream...