The Announcement I Have Been Dreaming of Making for the Last 28 Years

Image text reads: “RIGHTS REPORT: Tiffany Liao at Zando Young Readers has won, in a five-house auction, Madeline Claire Franklin’s debut The Wilderness of Girls, a YA contemporary at the intersection of thriller and folklore, following a pack of feral girls who are either lost princesses from a faraway land or brainwashed kidnapping victims, after they are “rescued” from the woods and forced into a society that insists on taming their wildness. Publication is scheduled for June 2024; Danielle Burby at Mad Woman Literary brokered the two-book deal for world rights.”

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Friends, family, enemies, strangers: it has been A Journey. Many of you have been with me on this journey for a long time. Maybe you read my weird little stories in middle school, or my angsty poetry in high school, or saw some early novel chapters in my college writing group, or maybe you even read my self-published books back when I thought I could make that work. You’ve seen my ups and my far more frequent downs as I stubbornly pursued a goal that often felt impossibly near and yet unfairly far away. For those of you who are new to the chat, well, someday I might write a succinct version of what it took to get here.

But today, reader, all I ask is that you bask with me in the baffling glory of a lifelong dream fulfilled.

Actual picture of me savoring my victory

Full transparency: this deal went down in January, in a whirlwind of unexpected attention and activity that I still find very hard to acknowledge is real. Fittingly, I took most of my meetings with editors while I was volunteering as a graduate assistant at my alma mater, VCFA. I was surrounded by beloved peers and mentors as everything unfolded (in fact, the auction almost took place while I was there), folks who could understand what I was going through, who could guide me through some of the trickier anxieties (“surely they’ve all read the wrong manuscript” was one I couldn’t get away from for months), and even advise on the practical aspects, like whether to hire an accountant or not. The experience of selling my novel, once I got there was, in a word, ideal. I can’t think of anything that could have made it significantly better.

But the best part? Telling my parents. I told them early on, after the first offer came in, the first week of January. I held off until I could see them in person that weekend, and asked for them to put some champagne on ice “because I didn’t get to see you during Christmas or New Year’s!” Then, once the champagne was poured, I was finally able to tell them: “We have an offer…which means, one way or another, my book is getting published.

I think it was the first time I ever saw both of my parents shout and jump with excitement.

Anyway, I’ve had nearly six months to adjust to this new reality, and part of me has (the part that needs to continue to work on the book with my editor, and start writing my next book). But for the most part, I still spend a little time every day in awe of it all, overflowing with gratitude for no longer being a person desperately yearning for their dreams, but someone living them.

(Also, I spend a lot of time contemplating hubris and my utter fear of it, but also how maybe it’s healthy to indulge in pride now and then when you’ve earned your success—it’s probably healthier than thinking everyone has mistaken someone else’s work for your own—and how even when I know I’ve worked fucking hard as hell to get here, I’m still afraid to show that pride/confidence because people are gonna say “oh she’s so arrogant” or “she’s so full of herself.” [Meanwhile, billlions of cis men think they’re entitled to your respect and attention just for being born with external genitals…I think I get to crow a bit about this.])

Anyway… more to come as it unfolds!