Written by Theron Maynard
I started writing what would become my debut novel, Live and Let Die, while a senior in high school. My creative writing teacher, for whom the book is dedicated, assigned five pages as a maximum; I handed in nineteen a week and a half later. I hadn’t planned on sharing the story with my classmates, but many expressed interest in reading my assignment after learning of its length.
I felt a shift in my confidence. People were interested in the story and would share their very emotional experiences. Some people were angry at the choices the characters made, and others had visual responses. I was genuinely interested in the feeling readers got after experiencing what I wrote. Live and Let Die showed me I did my job as a writer.
Writing Live And Let Die
During my senior year I focused on my graduation. High school gave me social anxiety and I struggled with connecting with my peers which created a mental and emotional fog that year. Later, I used that mental distress and emotional unrest as inspiration for Live and Let Die once I picked it back up.
I started working on Live and Let Die again in November 2019 while a freshman in college. I was highly determined to make Live and Let Die the best possible thing I could put into words. I woke up very early and quietly left my dorm to write in the student lounge every morning before class.
After my last class for the day, I ran back to my dorm and fell back into the world inside of Live and Let Die. I was in love with the story and the direction it was heading in. While writing the book, I had a separate document solely for potential ideas for the book’s overall tone, plot, and look. I say the “look” of the book, meaning I write in such a visual way. I see the story as I write the story.
I was going at a steady pace during December of 2019 and became sidetracked during the two-month winter break. Then came the end of January, and I moved back to school. From the get-go, I dove right back into writing my book.
Ideas Pouring Out
The ideas poured out organically. I had sixty pages in all one night and then ninety the next night. I couldn’t stop, nor did I want to. I was very disciplined with my days due to writing my book. I closed myself off to my reality and lived in the fictional story I was writing. I remember feeling warm once I finished writing for the night as if I ran a marathon. It was emotionally, mentally, and physically trying.
At this point, it was just after Valentine’s Day 2020. I stayed on campus that “Valentine’s Day Weekend” and continued working on my book. There was something funny to me that I was writing a love story in an empty dorm on a college campus where everybody was “in love” for the weekend. And it didn’t get me down because I was writing something that I loved. That was the best weekend that I spent alone.
The following week people started talking about a virus that everyone on campus was taking as a joke. I remember hearing classmates say the word “coronavirus” as someone would sneeze, sniffle, or cough in the room. As the weeks went on, the conversation only became louder. Before I knew it, I got a call from my school to the sound of an automated message notifying me that I needed to move out by the end of the week due to the newly declared pandemic.
I returned to campus by myself just as the sun came up and cleared my dorm quickly. I drove silent on my way home while only listening to the lyrics of the music. No one could go anywhere one day, and then the next day, people could, but you had to wear a face-covering if you did so. When the world stopped, my creative world also stopped.
Come April of 2020, and I was doing remote learning from the quiet streets back home. I felt a slight itch inside of me. This itch was the desire to escape inside of Live and Let Die again. With the streets empty, a world feeling like it’s ending, and a strangling silence, I found a new rush of creativity. I found inspiration in the sea as I sat and looked from my car in an empty parking lot. I woke up early each day and started writing. I continued making something that I continued to love. I felt the story sink deeper and beyond the initial tone, it was. My thought process was a sense of self-reflection, personal trauma, fears, desires, and authenticity.
Publishing Live And Let Die
By the day I turned nineteen, around 12:30 AM, I had finished my book. It took me nearly two years to complete, starting at seventeen while in high school and ending on my nineteenth birthday. Through networking and coincidence, I found a copy editor and a graphic designer. I hit publish from my bed at midnight on December 1st, 2020. I was beyond happy and proud of myself. That very morning, I drove over to a billboard that went up two days prior. That same billboard read, “Live and Let Die by Theron Maynard.” I put up four billboards around my home state for my novel, and on that morning, it felt like I was dreaming as I stared at that giant book cover on the side of a building.
It has been nearly a year since Live and Let Die has been out. I am blessed by the incredible opportunities, conversations, and people that have come my way as a result of Live and Let Die. I have so many more things to do, and I’ll write and be a storyteller on my way to all of them.