Friday, August 21, 2009

Dan Chaon's Guest Post: Await Your Reply

Hi, all. It’s Dan Chaon, blogging about my upcoming book, Await Your Reply, which will come out next Tuesday, August 25th.

This is a weird time. My publicist at Random House tells me that reviews are coming—in the New York Times Book Review, and People and Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post and so on and so forth. All of this will come down in the next few weeks. I’m trying to maintain a Zen attitude about it all, whatever will be will be.

Yeah, right.

It’s actually pretty nerve-wracking. It’s like being in school again, and waiting for your grades to come in. Or maybe more intense than that. It’s like writing someone a love letter, and waiting to hear how they will respond.

It has been five years since my last book, You Remind Me of Me, came out. In the subsequent years, I worked on a few different projects. I had several ideas for novels that I was toying around with before Await Your Reply began to gel. Then, even once I began working on the book in earnest, it seemed like it was a long while before it began to seem like I would ever actually finish the thing. The first hundred pages of the book were written over a pretty extended period, revised and discarded and revised again, between 2005 and 2007. The rest of the book was written over the course of a year, 2008, once I’d finally figured out what I was doing….or thought I had it figured out. As it happened, a couple of the novel’s twists and turns didn’t come to me until the final stages of writing. When I finally turned in the manuscript in late 2008, it still felt wet, newly-born and squinting in the daylight.

Still, even though it was a long time coming, it was surprising how quickly the book left my private imagination and began its way into the public world. Surprising, and a little alarming. By early 2009 I was finishing the final copy-edits, and talking to people at Ballantine about cover concepts, and filling out questionnaires for the publicity department, and I was aware that the book was now out of my hands.

There’s a weird moment when you send in the final page proofs and you are aware that you can’t change anything anymore. In the movies, the writer opens a bottle of champagne. Personally, I opened a bottle of Ambien.

Dan & his wife Sheila and Philip.

As it happens, 2009 was also the year that my oldest son, Philip, left for college. He packed up his things and cleared out his room, and at the beginning of August he drove off to California, where he will be attending Humboldt State in the fall. Readers, that’s a long way from Ohio.


I guess that launching a book is a little bit like seeing your first born head off into the world. You hope and pray for the best, but at the same time you have to accept that the outcome is now pretty much out of your hands.

Bon Voyage, Philip! Bon Voyage, Await Your Reply. Don’t forget that I will always love you, no matter what happens.



  1. I read Await ayour Reply in a day. The characters and stoy galvanized my attention. I keep coming back to the images of that severed arm as a metaphor for adoption. My children are both adopted and your books speak tp me of their struggles. When Hayden was not Ryan's biological father I felt as if identity was always fluid and unknowable . Your books stay with me. Thank you.