Waking up from Neon Fever Dream

This is an update from my author newsletter, which you can sign up for here.

Whenever a book comes out, I’m always filled with an odd mixture of conflicting emotions. I’m excited to share it and see it widely read, but I know that the work has to speak for itself. I’m thrilled to hear what readers think, but nervous that it might not resonate with them. I’m both anxious and relieved that a creative project I poured my heart into is finally out in the wild.

Neon Fever Dream came out two weeks ago. In addition to a number of blog reviews, Popular Science ran a review, TechCrunch ran an excerpt, La Soga ran an interview, Rocketship.fm ran a podcast, Don Houts ran a review, Product Hunt featured it, and Hugo and Nebula award-winner David Brin praised it in his reading roundup. You can even see a funny picture of me at Burning Man in this little photo-essay I wrote about the inspirations behind the book. Right now, we’re frantically gearing up to head back to the desert at the end of the month.

But more than anything, I’ve been delighted to hear from you. You’ve shared your loves, hates, questions, comments, and detailed accounts of what the story made you think and feel. Even before the book came out, advance readers taught me about everything from the institutional dynamics within the LDS Church to the onset time for rigor mortis. With Cumulus, you refined the story’s intelligence tradecraft, gear transmission mechanics, and so many other important factors. For The Uncommon Series, you helped me understand what it actually feels like for a CEO to go through an IPO and how expert money launderers manipulate the financial system. I’m lucky to have readers with sharp eyes and even sharper minds.

Any attention Neon Fever Dream earns is also thanks to you. Grassroots word-of-mouth helps art succeed by including it in our larger communal conversation. It’s the cultural equivalent of compound interest. Things that might seem small or unimportant make a surprisingly large impact over the long run. So when you recommend it to a friend or leave a review, you’re accomplishing far more than you might imagine.

After releasing a book, my next step is always to dive into a fresh manuscript. Last week, I started drafting a new story. Gene Wolfe once told Neil Gaiman, “You never learn how to write a novel, you just learn how to write the novel that you’re writing.” Time to see what’s at the bottom of this rabbit hole. Wish me luck.