Today at Jessewave’s blog spot Jenre, a guest reviewer, gave my book St. Nacho’s a great review and 4.75 stars out of 5. What was very kind was that this was a book she chose to read even though she didn’t care for another book I wrote, and I am really grateful she gave me another chance, as an author, to strut my stuff.
She actually said:
One of the highlights of this book is ZA Maxfield’s lyrical, evocative prose. She has the ability to take emotion and describe it succinctly, packing in feeling in every line.
Oh my goodness, I have to say that’s a really nice thing. You can read the rest of her very thoughtful and thought provoking review here.
One of the things my editors tease me about is the necessity for a certain amount of terrified author hand-holding that they have to do the night before a release, when they’re getting frantic emails from me that say things like “It’s going to be okay, right?” and “Even though it’s different, someone will like it, right?”
I admit I haven’t been doing this long enough–and I doubt I ever will get to that place–where I have enough confidence that I can carry a story line into new territory without the need for a little reassurance. St. Nacho’s is a dark and sometimes EMO piece. The main character is burdened by guilt and neurotically inarticulate. It stood to reason, for me anyway, that the person who might be able to reach him best might be someone who didn’t try to communicate with him in the usual way. BTW, I got a lovely note from someone who’d dated a deaf man who told me that it brought back fond memories of the struggle to make one’s self understood.
When Jordan Jensen moves to St. Nacho’s he has one goal in mind. Starting over. He wants to reconnect with best friends Cooper and Shawn, yet is uncertain of his welcome. He has the skills to get a job, but isn’t sure any prospective employer can get past the time he spent in jail for an alcohol-related death. He’s past the worst part of his life, but knows it will haunt him forever. Jordan plans a life of quiet service. One thing he knows: finding love is entirely too much to ask.
On the first day of his new job, Jordan meets Ken Ashton. Ken has every reason to hate Jordan for his past and only one to seek him out. For some reason he can’t explain, Ken needs Jordan’s touch. Ken finds healing within Jordan’s warmth and strength and Jordan discovers he wants to give Ken everything he needs. Without entirely understanding it, Ken and Jordan develop a powerful emotional and erotic connection, but Ken must help Jordan find the faith to trust it. Unexpected help comes from the people of Santo Ignacio–and the town itself–where Physical Therapy can be a path toward spiritual healing and love.
The windshield wipers on my old Honda slapped in time to the music on the radio, such an eerie coincidence I changed radio stations, going to one after another, finally settling on a Jazz radio station playing a soft blues piece. As the droplets merged they formed rivulets, gathered each other, and ran in slashes down the glass beneath the inadequate light. Slowing to a crawl alongside the black skeleton of a wooden pier, I stopped the car and got out, hardly aware that the rain came down and lashed at my clothing.
The pier was long, dark, and deserted. Its pilings groaned against the rushing water as it flowed and swirled around them. It seemed to me that the pier was standing uncertainly, like a dog watching in horror as water sucks and pulls at the sand beneath its paws when a wave recedes. I often froze as I felt my own feet being sucked out from under me in those days.
For the first time in almost a year, my hands itched for a cigarette; I could feel it there between my fingers like a phantom limb. I started off walking, the battered structure drawing me closer by the sheer enormity of its desolation.
From where I stood by the pier, I could see the waterfront businesses in tiny Santo Ignacio. The lights were out now, at this hour of the morning. I’d made my decision to come to Santo Ignacio late that afternoon, impulsively throwing everything I owned into a few boxes and bags. I’d said goodbye to my roommate and driven off. I’d always known I’d end up here. I just never knew when I’d finally decide it was time to come.
I had arrived at almost eleven p.m. and checked into my dreary motel room, falling onto the bed and into a deep sleep almost immediately. I’d slept for a little over two hours but then woke up fully refreshed, eager to get a look at this tiny seaside town.
It was close to three in the morning, and I was the only living thing stirring for miles. I crunched across the sand in hiking boots, just a little ways, until I could make out the unlit sign for Nacho’s Bar, where my friend Cooper worked. It gave me a sense of satisfaction to see it, not that I’d return during the day when it was inhabited. I just… it felt good knowing it was there; the place that Cooper told me about. I was glad to know it really existed. That I’d found it.
My cell phone burned in my pocket. I couldn’t call Cooper because Cooper was happy and healthy. Cooper had moved on with his life and his new lover Shawn. It wouldn’t be easy to tell Cooper I was here in town because there was so much about me that he wouldn’t understand.
First, and most important, I wasn’t here to get him back. I would hardly be able to convince Cooper of that fact, though, and didn’t care to try. I hadn’t left a trail of truth in my wake at the best of times and Cooper had seen me at my worst. When Cooper found out I was in Santo Ignacio, he would believe I was here for him. That I wasn’t over him, that I was still blaming him for the accident in our past, that I wasn’t better at all. That I hadn’t thrown the switch on my life that would make it possible for me to move beyond him.
But I had done just that.
Proving that I’d changed would require a tincture of time and patience. I’d come to Santo Ignacio in the hopes of finding what Cooper found here–not love– although Cooper had surely found that. For me it felt as though love was too much to ask. I’d been given my share and expected that was as much as I would ever be allotted. Maybe I wanted to find peace. Maybe I had come to Santo Ignacio to put down roots in a place where I knew I had friends. Maybe I finally wanted to give something away instead of taking it.
I turned away from Nacho’s Bar, and left my cell phone in my pocket. Santo Ignacio was a very small town. Sooner or later, Cooper would find out that I was in it. Maybe it would be far enough into the future that he wouldn’t see me as a threat. Maybe not.
Folding myself into the front seat of my Civic, I gave a last cursory look around. Clouds moved quickly past a wet-looking three-quarter moon. Rain was still falling down, spattering the car and dripping into my hair as I pulled the door shut. Just the little walk I’d taken down the strand left me soaked to the skin. I returned to the hotel and peeled off layer after layer of wet clothing. It hadn’t been a waste of time to go out and look around. St. Nacho’s existed very much as Cooper described it.
I felt faint stirrings of hope for the first time in years.
St. Nacho’s is available for purchase here. Physical Therapy is due out from Loose Id in early May.