My fifth and sixth graders often ask me how long it took to write A Window in an Unlikely Place. That is a complicated question. The short (but misleading) answer is ten years. But I didn’t work on it continuously for that long. I wrote the first draft when I was nineteen.
My friend, AJ, gave us all a writing prompt: Write a short story about a window in an unlikely place and use three words that rhyme with arf. I composed my story in the form of a short poem. When I read it to my wife over the kitchen table, she exclaimed, “That’s not a poem; that’s a novel!” And so it became. I wrote the first draft a decade ago and put it on the shelf. A few years later I reread it and wrote another draft.
Then, when I was teaching Latin and English at a private school in Oxford, Mississippi, a few years ago, incidentally the hometown of William Faulkner, I was inspired by my fifth grade class to write the final draft. I read it to my students, all nineteen of whose names appear in chapter twenty in a list of dwarves, and they loved it. I read it to my seventh graders, and they loved it. I read it to my wife, and she loved it. It was time to publish it.
And so we started down the path that led to its being published in October 2015.