Yeah, it’s me – I’m William Graves. I’m rebooting my first novel from 1993 – Shocker – a classic and written before cell phones were in vogue. Back then we avoided people who talked to themselves on the street. Now, I’m one of them. It’s amazing that I was a journalist traveling back roads to places I’d never been – alone – with a piece of paper I kept glancing at and somehow I ended up where I was supposed to be.
It’s surprising how cautious I am about dating apps considering how willing I was to meet felons with a good story over coffee.
These days I have things talking at me and showing me a picture and I wonder if I’ll get somewhere. My first GPS was the Offspring who eventually got tired of my calling him from dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, asking for directions. I have an innate knack for heading into trouble. Part of what bugged him was that I wasn’t bothered. Of course, I didn’t know where I was either. Next birthday he gave me a GPS that I still use and now aggravates him because I never update it.
I like to update my technology about five years after everyone else just as what I’m about to purchase is going out of style. I had an old boxy 13” TV that annoyed my neighbors so much they showed up with a large boxy TV they got from the alley. It was the Great Recession and I was a journalist – alley shopping was a thing there briefly. It’s how I got my glass top dining room table too. Maybe that’s a Chicago thing.
Shocker was my first novel, written back when the Offspring was brand new and I was already a single mother, and most of it was written in the middle of the night. The only free time I had. It came out from a traditional publisher and was a hit! Everyone loved it, which was a relief.
But, it wasn’t until a little later that I found out just what a hit it would become. This was back when email was brand new and people still had to write you letters – and they started to come in almost immediately. Mostly women, but even some men, writing to say they’d kept a secret for years and after reading Shocker, needed to tell someone. They were victims of sexual assault too and because of this little story, they didn’t want to keep it anymore. You pay a price and they were doing paying. One woman wrote about having schizophrenia and because of that, no one believed her. Another talked about the mother who kicked her out, and another said she had kept the secret for over 50 years but after she finished the book, she went and told her therapist. She set herself free.
That summer I went on a national book tour, appearing in book stores all over the country. Every stop there were a few women who approached me with a well-worn book gripped tightly to their chest. It happened so often that I knew what was coming next. They’d lean in and whisper, almost excited at the prospect of the freedom that was just there at the edges, “I am a survivor, too.” Relief would flood their face as they told me their story and I’d listen. That’s all they needed, someone who understood and would listen. No greater gift can be given to an author than to know something I’ve written has made you laugh, restored your hope or best of all, set you free.
That’s exactly why I wrote Shocker – I was trying to set myself free. I’m a survivor as well and it would actually still be years later before I would come clean – all because of an email. The man heard about all my success and after all those years wrote me an email asking how I was doing and ended it with a smiley face. He had reduced something that altered my life with a bland emoticon.
In those days I wrote for the Washington Post and before I could take it back, I wrote about it and sent it off to my editor. Days later it was out there in the national news – no more hiding. That guy wrote back and actually admitted he was in the wrong – but added that whoever I was now – he was not to blame. That was all on me.
He was right – what I was left with was a blank slate and an opportunity to create, over and over again who I want to be. Been doing it ever since, my own unique and weird way.
Very glad to be bringing this little gem back out and hope it carries the same magic for a lot of new readers and helps you find your voice, create your own joy and at last be free of anything that’s been haunting you. Turns out, this world is a really cool place. More adventures to follow. Available on Amazon and in Kindle Unlimited.