Published by Rare Bird Books
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Purchase Links Amazon
Seventeen-year-old Quinn can't feel physical pain. Born with a rare neurological condition, he’s faced accidents and emergency room visits. It's a surprise he's still alive—a fact that has unwittingly left him to his own devices for most of his life. No school, no friends, no rules. At the mercy of his older sister Caitlin, who has spent the past few years caring for their dying father, he spends his days drinking at a nearby bar, testing his limits, and working on a graphic novel about a mysterious vigilante called Shadow Man. Lately, though, even his art has taken a turn for the worst.
Quinn has created a new character called Boy Demon who destroys everything he touches, and now Quinn can't decide how his book should end. Furthermore, an ominous black dog has started to follow him everywhere.
On the same day his father dies, Quinn accidentally gets hit by a car and Caitlin decides that this is the last straw. Left with the choice to either find a job and grow up or be committed to a rehabilitation center, Quinn takes a gig at a local butcher shop owned by the father of a sensitive but troubled girl who often changes her appearance with the flick of a wrist.
But the closer he gets to Reese and finding stability, the further he spins out of control, as the lines between art and reality continue to dissipate.
In this debut novel, Jamie Mayer offers an unflinching and poignant look at pain, empathy, and how to grow up without feeling pain.
Painless started brewing when I read a small article about a four-year-old boy with a rare neurological condition that made him unable to feel pain. He was a nightmare for his parents, who couldn’t control him, and couldn’t really explain to him why he shouldn’t hurt himself or others. I immediately started imagining what this little boy would be like when he grew up (if he grew up – most kids with his condition didn’t make it to adulthood), with no way to physically relate to what life was like for other people. I also loved it as a metaphor for the ways that people shut themselves off emotionally, protecting themselves from loss or rejection but also depriving themselves of any chance at connection or love. I wanted to write a story about how risking deep pain is also the only way to experience anything worthwhile about life and love.
ABOUT THESE IMAGES
I love gathering images as part of the outlining and writing process, things that are evocative of the story’s characters, places or moods. Here is a selection of the images I assembled for Painless:
Main character Quinn is a tough guy, the son of a firefighter in a working class Boston neighborhood who dropped out of school in 8th grade and didn’t look back. He lives in his mind, drawing graphic novels and trying to avoid connections with others, until his encounters with Reese force him to confront his emotional isolation and his family’s tragic past.
Reese feels life perhaps too intensely. Paralyzed by the weight of the world, she’s unable to commit to a path in life – she can’t even commit to a look. Every time we see her, she’s wearing a different thrift store look: punk rock, 1940’s glamour, country-western queen. When Quinn gets a job in Reese’s father’s shop, they clash – but as their relationship evolves, and a tragic accident unfolds, it leaves them both changed forever…
(credit: Joshua Hagler, used by permission)
Quinn draws graphic novels that illustrate and illuminate his internal struggle, giving us a window into his mind. For those images, I was inspired by the work of painter (and former graphic novelist) Josh Hagler. (Google him, he’s great!) They are the closest thing I found to show how I envision Quinn’s drawings (and living dreams).
*~~About the Author~~*