There are two days left until Kotov Syndrome comes out. Over the course of this week, I’ve been thanking a lot of people for their help, inspiration, and involvement in getting my book across the finish line. That said, I only wrote three thank you posts, as I didn’t want to make everything super short. The downside to that is that I had two days during the week I wanted to fill.
On Tuesday, I did that by telling you that you shouldn’t read my book. Which, as you might be aware, is not a typically recommended strategy either for selling a book or encouraging people to read your work. I’m pretty sure it’s in direct conflict with the first law of marketing your own book. But I said it for a good reason. I’d encourage you to click the link in the first sentence if you want a full explanation.
Here’s the thing though — as the person who wrote this book, I would love for you to read it. That means you reading this post. And the person who read this post before you. And the person who’ll read it after you. And your family members. And your friends. And your enemies. And your pets. If you know someone who can read, I want them to read Kotov Syndrome. If they can’t read, I’d love for you to read it to them1I would not, however, recommend reading this book to your children. I do like to say fuck a lot..
I’ve spent the better part of three and a half years working to make Kotov Syndrome the best book it can possibly be. I felt like the story idea was solid from the outset, but I was admittedly shaky on how I could turn an idea into the story I wanted to tell. I went through five major drafts of the book, along with several minor ones over that time. And though the story itself became (part of) what I want it to be.
There are a lot of motivations that get thrown around from writers. Some people want to sell books. Others want to tell great stories. Still others want to leave a lasting legacy with their writing. I think all of those things are great — admittedly I’d love for my books to do some of those same things. After all, it’s not like I want to sell zero copies of my book. That would be unfortunate and a touch saddening.
As I wrote Kotov Syndrome, I got asked by a few different people what my intent was with this book. In a very basic sense, my intent started out with the story I wanted to tell and nothing more. And so long as I told that story well, I’ve succeeded. But that’s not where things ended up going by the time I’d finished writing the book.
One major difference between the final edition of Kotov Syndrome that releases Saturday and some of the earlier drafts of the book is the secondary focuses of the book. At its core, Kotov Syndrome is a story that focuses on the relationship between the main character, Erika, and her ex-girlfriend, Abby. There’s the subtext of the fact that Abby’s a conscientia (read: a computer program in an android that’s developed human emotions), but that’s the main premise to the story. Around draft three or so, I made a conscious decision to take a background plotline of the book and bring it to the forefront of the story, that being Erika’s mental health.
Around three or four years ago, I began to be a bit more cognizant of my mental health. There were things I’d struggled with for as long as I could remember, particularly intrusive thought spirals that I had no control over. At their least impactful, they were annoying distractions that impacted my ability to focus. At their worst, they had the ability to be debilitating. While the sprials couldn’t control my actions, they could prevent me from doing pretty much anything.
In the book, one of the symptoms of the mental illness Erika is struggling with is severe intrusive thought spirals. As a coping mechanism with these spirals when she was younger, Erika gave a personification to these intrusive thoughts, having them go by the name Grace. This technique does have some basis in reality — as I was researching the subject for the book, a recurring theme I saw referred to with intrusive thought spirals was the concept of the “inner critic”, a voice that we have that, unsurprising, criticizes us. Erika giving a full-on personification to her intrusive thoughts is essentially her taking the recognition that those thoughts aren’t her “normal” thoughts to its logical conclusion, particularly when taken in the context that Erika was not able to afford therapy for more than a few sessions prior to the start of Kotov Syndrome.
I recognize that the way I experience the mental health challenges that I do are not the end-all, be-all of how everyone experiences such conditions. Furthermore, I also recognize that the depiction of Erika’s struggles with her mental health are both a work of fiction and a dramatization. My research, as well as my interactions with friends, colleagues, family members, and other acquaintances who struggle with their mental health, have only reinforced the fact that mental illness impacts each person differently. In bringing Erika’s mental health challenges into a more prominent role — both in this book as well as the series that will come out of it — my hope is to continue to work to normalize the mental health struggles that so often go hidden because of pervasive stigmas associated with mental illness.
My ultimate goal with Kotov Syndrome is two-fold. First, I want to entertain my readers with a story. I am writing fiction for a reason, after all. But second, and more importantly, I want my writing to mean something to someone. That’s a goal with most of my writing, but with this book and this series, it’s taken on some additional meaning. It took me a long time to feel comfortable working on my mental health. Ultimately, one of the things that ended up pushing me over the edge to start making that effort was a book2That book? Crazy is my Superpower by AJ Mendez Brooks. If my book can create that same kind of impact with one other person, then I’ve done my job.
This is also part of why I’ve chosen to have a portion of the proceeds from my book go toward mental health charities. As long time readers of this blog are aware, I’ve done charity drives in past years with the profits from my book of short stories, An Epilogue to Innocence. In most years, I’ve donated that money to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention or The Marshall Project. With Kotov Syndrome, I’ve decided that I’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds from each sale and pre-sale to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Though I know that the profits my book makes will likely be a drop in the bucket in terms of their yearly donations, my hope is it’s still something.
You can pre-order Kotov Syndrome from any of the links below. For a full list of where to buy, go to the Kotov Syndrome page on this blog.