I rarely talk about my wife Anna. But today is a special exception, for a special reason.
Anna grew up in a mountain town so small it only had one stop sign. He parents grew up during the Great Depression, and they lived in a modest home packed tight with her large family. As a kid, she used to climb up into trees with books to escape the chaos of being the youngest person in the busy house.
Reading led to writing, and she eventually immersed herself in classes and conferences. She worked with as many other published and non-published authors as she could. In particular, she devoted herself to a manuscript that was clearly special.
I met Anna in the late 90′s. Like most people close to her, I admire her honesty, integrity, generosity, and fierce independence. A few years ago, after her manuscript got nominated for the SCBWI “Most Promising New Work” award, it became obvious (and exciting) that her book might eventually be published. And knowing how much energy she was putting into the book, I realized how much she deserved to get proper credit. Anna’s writing is great, and we both wanted her work to be judged on its merit, not on the book’s potential connection with me or Linkin Park.
So she made a decision: when speaking to people about her book, she would keep the focus on her writing, and not mention me.
It made things harder for Anna, and the process took much longer than it might have otherwise. But in the end, it allowed the focus to stay on what was important. Anna got nominated for two Sue Alexander Awards based on the quality of her writing. She got her agent’s attention based on the quality of her writing. And she got her publishing deal without sharing any knowledge that her husband was “famous.” In fact, when she finally told her editor and team who I was their reaction was, “Linkin Park!? You’re kidding!”
I’m proud to tell you that, ten years in the making, her book was an endeavor she carried out with integrity.
LEARNING NOT TO DROWN is a dark, introspective, funny, and meaningful work of fiction; it follows a young girl named Clare as she deals with a brother in and out of prison, small-town gossip, and a family dynamic that threatens to choke out Clare’s own plans for her future.
Pretend that you, just like the people who have supported Anna so far in this process, are encountering this book without any connection to me or my band. Pretend I’m just a friend telling you about it, because really, I have no hand in what makes it great. And I promise: just like them, when you read it, you’ll find out that it’s an extraordinary novel, and you will love it.