When the publisher requested critical changes to the manuscript, he refused to make them. He said he would have to break the contract before he would change his book. He believed in it that strongly . The rest, as they say, is history...
In the early nineties, a friend passed along some paperbacks she thought I would enjoy reading. There might have been a half dozen of them. But, only one I remember. Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon.
I read it, talked about it, then read it again. I gave the book to my son to read. Probably the first time I’d ever passed along one of my books to him. He was around fourteen at the time.
Due to downsizing over the years, I’ve had to be very selective about which books I keep. I never considered parting with Boy’s Life. It’s a classic. A few years ago, my son bought me a new copy to replace the one held together with an elastic band.
Robert McCammon has a staggering imagination. No, not every writer does. McCammon fearlessly combined mystery with fantasy with action with suspense and tied them all up in one incredible story.
This book has it all. Is that what makes it unforgettable? Not really. There are many reasons. For me, one stands out above the rest.
It goes back to my love of people. I love meeting the characters in books. You see, that is my weakness and my strength – protagonists and antagonists. The more realistic the better. Actually, the most unrealistic character that seems real is even better than that.
Boy’s Life has the most credible as well as the most extraordinarily unbelievable cast.
In my opinion, McCammon’s most admirable quality is his talent for getting inside his characters − becoming his characters. Most writers do that, but wait, he has an even rarer talent.
He draws the reader, not only into the story but also into these characters, until we become a part of them and experience everything as breathlessly as they do.
This author gave me the opportunity to wander around the mind of an eleven-year-old boy. Feel his fears. See the world through his eyes. I could have sworn an eleven-year-old boy wrote that book. McCammon is that good.
Having said that, you have to know that as soon as I finished Boy’s Life I searched out other books that he wrote. I read all of them. However, none came close to the magic of Boy’s Life.
It is clear from McCammon’s interviews, that this novel holds a special place in his heart, too. Of course, he couldn’t agree to the publisher’s suggested changes to his book. For him, it was clear from the start that this was his book of books.
Writers like Robert McCammon spark something in me. It's like an invitation to walk through an open door and lose myself in the world of unfettered imagination. It's freedom. Reading Boy’s Life is an adrenalin rush. The unbelievable becomes believable.
Robert McCammon is an inspiration to all writers, regardless of genre. We have to be brave enough, strong enough, and honest enough to write from the heart. Even then, there’s only one Robert McCammon.