“She’d been subterranean for little more than an hour, and already was forgetting life on the outside….”
The Land of Nod is a psychedelic Roman a clef, a journey of magical realism, a dark children’s tale for adults. Recovered methadone baby Kassandra Bullet is on a quest for family, faith, and Self. Along her journey she meets a lively set of players: 78-year-old potato farmer Adelaide Wentworth, Bufo Alvarius rancher Toad Licker, former Illitch Chief Deputy John Losa, her doomed lover Raven Black, and even a mime who just might be Jesus Christ. Will this strange girl in a strange land stumble upon salvation, or descend into destruction?
THE LAND OF NOD
Nothing Is Real.
Surprise! I’m putting out a new book this week.
Pirates, be ye warned.
As the title of my post indicates, this here is a Preemptive Strike. Hi, Twitter! Lots of content warning and some ’splainin’ is in order for Vivacia K. Ahwen and Rachel Robbins’ new release, The Land of Nod. I’ll try to hit all points I can think of. Though I’ll surely be reminded if I forget something 😉
Let’s start with authors and genre, shall we? Vivacia K. Ahwen writes erotica, but has grown quite weary of it. Rachel Robbins writes some hot stuff, but it’s not the primary focus of the story. More magical realism, less wank. Since I (Rachel) haven’t published anything under my own name, I decided a good way to cross over into my lit fiction and still have some brand recognition was co-authoring with Vivacia. Also, let me be clear: The Land of Nod is a New Adult book, not a Young Adult. Rather than list all the potential “triggers” in the book, let me just say there’s a bunch of them. If you are easily offended by exploring upsetting issues, please read something else. The MC is only eighteen by the end of the book, which would scream YA, but there’s some seriously creeptastic stuff in Nod. It might be considered appropriate for the teen set back before we started infantilizing readers, but nowadays it’s not. There is physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. The underground toad ranch is not a safe space. Also….
I started writing LON in 1992, and it was an on/off labor of love that kept me semi-sane through some dark years. The Land of Nod was my playground. Unfortunately, by the time I’d finished (2004), the novel was already irrelevant and outdated. For example, people are going to think of actress Sandra Bullock when they read “Kassandra Bullet.” I’d never heard of her until long after Miss Congeniality had come out, and since Kaybee’s name is integral to character, plot, setting, theme, etc. I can’t change it.
Twilight’s Jacob Black wouldn’t ride his motorcycle onto the pop-culture horizon for at least another year. Once he did, I was crushed, having not found a publisher for Land of Nod. You see, “Raven Black” (also from a fictional Indian Nation) is Kassandra’s love interest, and –once again—his name is part of the story. Oh, and THEN the Raven Cycle series came out. I read the first of them this year, and it seems there’s a similar magical realism thing going on with that. Raven Black is all connected with birds, ya see.
Which leads me to my next woe/worry: I’m so going to get nailed for cultural appropriation and stereotypes. Even though I was attempting to address problematic stereotypes and do some lit deconstruction with the Illitch tribe, that likely will be an issue for some readers. I can see people taking excerpts out of context, kicking up some internet outrage, and start a campaign of 1-starring without reading the book. Because of what I’m going for, that’s a risk I’ll have to take. Tina Fey got a major smackdown for doing something similar in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” and she did it far better than I. So, there it is.
Mexico and France chapters may be considered “problematic,” due to my renegade use of Spanglish and Franglish, which was intended. Also, the characters they meet will be called out as stereotypical. Fair enough, but they were based on the old-school locals I met while I was staying in the area. Old school is what I wanted, and that’s how I wrote them.
While we’re talking race/nationality, Kassandra Bullet’s is never clearly stated, which was also deliberate. Also-also, there are people with disabilities in the book, and some LGBTQ community, too. Even though I may be pressured to reveal my ability or lack thereof, or speak to strangers about my sexuality, it ain’t going to happen. I’ll write whatever I damn well please, and have watched one too many authors bend under pressure, feeling the need to share personal information so that they can prove themselves “qualified” to write marginalized characters. I’m not doing it.
Oh, and there’s no table of contents.
Think I covered my bases. Since I’m not doing a lotta promo, am negging the book in a public forum, and the fact that it’s around 600 pages, I don’t expect many people to read The Land of Nod. This post is primarily just to save me some time deflecting down the road. If you’ve read this far and still want to check it out, here is the Kindle Link, but the paperback –which will be available next week– is way cooler. Not only because the cover art looks even trippier, but it’s meant to be read as a page-turner, turn, rather than a scroll and slide. It just is.
FREE with Kindle Unlimited! $9.99 *cough* without:
Maybe you’ll love it.
Though I haven’t read LON in well over a decade, I do remember having a blast working on it. For the most part. Okay, I cried a few times, too. I hope you have a blast reading it and cry a few times as well. Embrace the weirdness. Listen To The Warm.
Above all, I just needed to get The Land of Nod out of the drawer so that I can close that chapter of my life, and focus on writing something new. There’s a ton of stuff in the works, and I’m cool with saying a final goodbye to Toad Licker.
RR + vka