This week I received my signed Publication Agreement, about which I am very excited, from Red Hen Press, who are publishing my first novel, titled Parnucklian for Chocolate, in the Spring of 2013 (or at least that’s the plan).
In fact, the reason I started this blog a few weeks ago is that one of the things that Red Hen said I should do on this big-list-they-sent-me-of-things-I-should-do-between-now-and-then was to start blogging. So I did. And it’s been fun, though it’s admittedly difficult to consistently maintain what with work and marriage and Dr. Oz every day at 4 and Christmas and all that. When I started I was thinking it would be a daily thing. But that didn’t happen. Then I set a goal of 3 posts a week, and that happened for the first week. But not the week after that or the week after that. So this week I’m going to shoot again for 3 posts or more, but I at least know I can keep up with posting every week.
Anyway, another thing that Red Hen said I should do on their big-list-of-things-I-should-do (actually, this one was more of a must do than a should do) was to write three descriptions of the novel: a one-line description, a one-paragraph, and a one-page, all of which my wonderful wife Liz helped me with and which I’ll share here:
Here’s the one-liner:
Parnucklian for Chocolate is a dark comedy about what it is to grow up an alien in your own family and your own life.
Here’s the paragraph:
Parnucklian for Chocolate is B.H. James’s first novel. It is a dark comedy about Josiah, a young teen who has spent his whole life being told he is special. James’s novel examines the tall tales that exist in all families, and what happens when we lose control of them. Josiah was raised by an overwhelmed and overwrought mother who told him his father was from the planet Parnuckle. It seemed like a good idea at the time. His origin mythology is a web of 1980’s pop culture references and a mad desire to make a mistake mean something. It is a novel that examines what happens when we start to see how crazy our parents are, and how crazy we were to ever believe them. It is a novel that shows us how grown up kids have to be, and what freaks we all are.
Here’s the pager:
Parnucklian for Chocolate is a novel about growing up an alien in your own family and your own life. The story follows Josiah from the age of five to sixteen. As a small child, Josiah willingly believed that his absence of a father could logically be explained by the simple fact that his father was a high ranking alien official on the planet Parnuckle. It explained so much, such as why he should only eat chocolate and why he should be proud of and idolize his father, the Keymaster of Gozer, even though they’d never met.
But as time goes on and gaps in this mythology widen, Josiah is faced with two options: either it’s all very real or it’s all very pretend. Both answers constitute a huge betrayal. This comes into sharper focus when Josiah meets Bree, a prematurely mature girl who has also been repeatedly betrayed by her parents. And when Josiah’s mother marries Bree’s father and they attempt a typical all-American nuclear family, chaos ensues—equal parts despair and absurdity.
This is a story that examines in sometimes pathetic, often hilarious style what it is to be the victim of who your parents are. It is a story that shows just how grown up children often have to be, and how alone we leave them even when they are in our care. It is a story that recognizes we all rely on mythologies about ourselves to make the least bit of sense of our lives.
The characters are vivid. The scenarios are absurd. The style is distinct. The humor is dark. Parnucklian for Chocolate is sure to stay with you for years to come.
BH James has taken a bizarre situation and made it relatable and recognizable to all those who read it—alien or otherwise.
By the way, I’m being published as BH James because it’s more Googleable. If you Google Bill James you get the baseball guy.