b'Accidental Book MeetsAccidental PublisherA serendipitous SOMA pairing ofa writer, a month, and a pressBY TIA SWANSONmonth once a year when writersplay out. Other than that, she had nothing planned.are challenged to write 50,000The National Novel Writing Month folks have wordsanentirenovelinpointersfornovelistswritingtheir50,000words; one month. So Erens, a womanone is to keep throwing drama at the story. And so whose novels are serious, liter- Erens did. The refugee from Vietnam made room for ary, and grown-up, decided shea story that also was about a friendship and a family would write a story for kids. dissolving and a tiny, precocious 11-year-old named I generally have a fairly la- Matasha, whose name plays on the protagonists in boriouswritingprocess,sheWar and Peace, learning to find her way on her own.explains,butsinceshehadAt the end of the month Erens had 50,000 words onlyamonth,sheneededtoand she was back into her writing routine. I put it A bout10yearsago,Pamelathey would go tofind something simpler and lessaside for a few months, she remembers. When she stressful. A childrens story, shepulled it back out and reread it, she was horrified. thought, sounded fun. This is awful; this is just terrible, she recalls saying Erenswasabitstuck.HerI had one idea, she recalls. A girl whose familyto herself. I cant do anything with this. I put it in a first novel, published shortlywants to adopt a refugee from Vietnam. file cabinet and it sat there for 10 years.before, had been a critical suc- She planned to set the story in 1970s Chicago,She wrote a second adult novel, even more suc-cess, but she had not yet foundher home town, because she knew the ins and outs ofcessful than the first, that was lauded by The New her way into her second. that childhood: how kids would get around, whereYork Times, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair, among So she set herself a differ- school, what the neighborhoodsothers. She wrote a third novel that also got glowing ent goal. It was National Novel Writing Month, awouldbelike,theplacestheirfriendshipswouldreviews and was named a Best Book of 2016 by The 24/ matters magazine / summer 2021'