The Story Behind Perfect

Perfect came about because I was a huge gymnastics nerd.  From the time I was little, I loved the sport. I loved watching it, reading about it, doing it, pretty much anything with gymnastics, I was there.  It was probably a good thing that I grew up before the rise of the internet or I would never have left my house.  I was that addicted.  However, it soon became apparent that I was not really the gymnast with the best work ethic when it came to exercise, so I quit at the beginning of level two and moved on to firm super-fan, couch-potato status.

Not only did I want to watch gymnastics on TV I wanted to read about it. There was one problem. In the '90s, the number of books with gymnasts as characters was amazingly small.  There was a series called "The Gymnasts" that was pretty popular, and a few stand-alone novels, but these all had protagonists who were just starting gymnastics or competing at lower levels. There were no books telling the stories of elite gymnasts.  It was also irritating that so much of the fiction was cliche or unbelievable. Nearly every book had a gymnast with an eating disorder or a stage parent. It got to be very repetitive.  Recently, there have been more books published, including Lauren Hopkins trilogy detailing the journey of three Olympians. However there is still not a long series covering the stories of elite gymnasts. Until now.

Perfect got its start back in about 2001. I had always wanted to write a series about elite gymnastics, so I decided to write the first book and submit it to HarperCollins. They liked the idea but ultimately ended up passing on the series. I completed the first book but then moved on to other things and eventually lost half the manuscript to due to disk failure. Fast forward about 15 years and I was an undergrad at the University of Arizona. I was taking an Introduction to Publishing class for my creative writing degree. The focus of the class was children's literature, so I decided to resurrect Perfect. Upon reading the half of the manuscript that I still had, I realized that it was in dire need of a good rewrite so I sat down and basically rewrote the book.

I decided that self-publishing was the best route for a couple of different reasons. First, at this point I really felt like I wanted creative control of the series. I didn't want a publishing company to be able to stop the series whenever they wanted. I wanted a long-running series that would completely tell the four-year journey of two gymnasts on their way to the Olympics even if I was the only one who would ever read it. I also didn't want a publishing company telling me what I could and could not write about and which topics to cover. Another reason I decided to self-publish was the rise of on-demand publishing. It is now possible publish a book without buying thousands of copies up front, which makes it feasible for independent authors to self-publish books on a very small budget.

There are a few things that I decided right off the bat when I came back and started to write Perfect again. First I decided that there were going to be no cliches. That means no eating disorders, or if there is an eating disorder it's going to be really weird. That is not to say that gymnasts never get eating disorders. It just means that the topic has been covered over and over and over again. I definitely did not feel the need to add to that growing cacophony of literature. Another cliche I wanted to avoid was stage parents. What I did want to portray was healthy, strong, amazing, talented athletes who give the sport their all.

I hope you enjoy reading Perfect.