I always have a soundtrack for my books, and A THOUSAND DOORS is no different… except this one was compiled en masse, with each author offering their own song to match their story. Can you match the song to the life? Leave a comment with your answers and if you get it right, you’ll be eligible for a fabulous mystery prize. I’ll post the answers on this post in two days.
Hello, friends! It’s been quite a week here in JT-land. Biggest news first: Season three of A WORD ON WORDS has been nominated for an EMMY! I went to the nomination party Thursday night and I admit, I levitated a bit when the announcement was made. It is a surreal and wonderful thing to be acknowledged for your work in this way, though I have to admit, I have the easiest part of the show. Reading a great book, coming up with questions, and interviewing the author is so much fun! I give all the credit to my producer and the whole team who make it look so easy. This show has been one of the greatest joys of my career. I’ve met so many interesting people, learned so much, and of course, have built many fine friendships. We’re halfway through shooting Season 4 right now, and I think you’re going to be pleased with the shows. If you’ve never seen A WORD ON WORDS, check it out here.
And of course, the trade paperback of Brit in the FBI #5 came out, as did a reprint of Sam Owens #4, and TEAR ME APART made both the Strand’s and Bookclubbish’s lists of best books of 2018, and A THOUSAND DOORS is rocking along with a fabulous mention in Bookreporter. It’s one of those wild weeks that I can never imagine happening, much less hope for. It’s been a rough couple of years busting butt on all of these projects at once, and it’s nice to be able to take a break, take a breath, and say OK, I can be proud of the work I’ve done this year. And revel in the knowledge it’s all DONE!
And at the same time, there has been such tragedy these past two weeks in California. Towns and ecosystems destroyed… It is heartbreaking, and my thoughts and prayers (and financial support — see how you can help too, below) are with them. Cali peeps: I am so truly sorry for your suffering.
Onward. It’s all we can do.
Here's what happened on the Internets this week:
How to Help People (and animals and wildlife) Affected by the California Wildfires. Whilst I’m having this fantastic week, so many people are suffering, which absolutely tempers things, and helps me keep a pretty damn solid perspective on my life. I encourage you to read this, and give what you can. And if you can’t, prayers do help. Never underestimate the power of positive energy. And if you’re there and able: water for the wildlife, salt licks, hay, any kind of food that you can put out, helps. Blessings…
The Draw of the Gothic. “Feeling is at the heart of the gothic, because it is not a genre: it cannot be concocted out of an approved list of motifs.” As I am in the midst of developing a gothic right now, this article couldn’t have been more timely.
13 Amazing Free Reading Apps to Take Your Books Everywhere. It’s funny, I’m a huge digital reader simply because with all the travel, it’s getting difficult to lug my books around, and at the same time, I’ve just had to add 5 more bookshelves to the house, bringing the floor-to-ceiling total to 13. Egads, right?
One great reason why we should stop using the term “women’s fiction.” We don’t see a lot of books classified as men’s fiction… though Liane Moriarty spoke last week about this phenomenon so beautifully. And I’ve just published a book that I feel falls perfectly into this category. So I’m torn… What do you think?
And closer to home:
A THOUSAND DOORS has been making its way into the world and the feedback has been wonderful! This is such a special project, a real book of the heart for me, and for all the amazing ladies involved.
As I mentioned above, it was reviewed in BookReporter this week, and I had a blast talking about Two Tales Press, its mission, and the why behind my anthologies with contributor Laura Benedict over at The Kill Zone.
BookClubbish included TEAR ME APART in their Thrills and Chills in 2018: 12 of the Best Suspense Books list. And it’s one of The Strand Magazine’s Top 20 Books of 2018!
That's all for now! Tune in here tomorrow for a fun little giveaway/game, start putting together your Thanksgiving menu, go see a movie, and I’ll see you next week!
peace and hugs,
Happy Release day to us! THE SIXTH DAY trade paperback is on sale today! Look at this gorgeous artwork! It’s stunning, and I love it!
Here are some insights about how we put together the book, the research we did, and a few other little tidbits. Hope you enjoy the book!
I’ll be the first to admit, naming the 5th book in the Brit in the FBI series THE SIXTH DAY shows a small lack of foresight on our part, as now that the 6th book is underway, I keep finding myself saving files to the Sixth Day folder. A small price to pay, though, for what I think is the most intricate, intense ride of the series thus far.
Set in London, Nicholas and Mike are up against a villain who thinks he’s a descendent of Vlad the Impaler, and believes the lost pages of the Voynich Manuscript hold the answers to save his twin brother from the grips of severe hemophilia. (Get it - vampires, hemophilia…) Plus, there is some high-tech madness, and a drone army, and falcons named after the original Cabal. Trust me when I say Nicholas and Mike have their hands full.
You might wonder how Catherine and I cook up these crazy plots. Normally, we meet at her place in California, but for this book, we set up shop in a lovely hotel in Manhattan, with oodles of tea and bacon (the staples of life) being brought by room service, and started throwing ideas against the wall. We had two basic concepts to start with — the Voynich Manuscript and Vlad Dracul — and we tossed out plot twists until they began to gel into a plausible story.
We had so many cool ideas for THE SIXTH DAY I often wondered how we would manage to fit them all in. But we did, and the result is a mind-bending thriller that will leave you breathless.
A part of this book’s inspiration was a family affair. I have to give props to my dad and my brothers for inspiring the falcons in the book. We were walking on the beach last year and my eldest brother mentioned a documentary he’d seen about a falcon hospital in Saudi Arabia. My dad had forwarded me a story about the French using eagles and falcons to take down drones just days before … and my middle brother mentioned he’d recently seen a story about a Saudi Prince booking seats for 80 of his falcons on board a plane. I was hooked on these ideas and ran to Catherine and said — Roman has to be a falconer. She bought in immediately, for which I will be forever grateful.
In that vein, I also have to give props to Helen Macdonald for her incredible book H IS FOR HAWK (recommended to me years ago by my very first editor, so how’s that for full circle), and Deborah Harkness for introducing me to the Voynich in her incredible ALL SOULS series. These inspirations truly helped bring this book to life.
Thanks to all!
I hope you enjoy THE SIXTH DAY – let me know what you think!
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Let’s celebrate with a giveaway!
I have 10 copies of the trade paperback up for grabs! Giveaway is US-only (sorry, international folks!) and ends this Friday November 16. Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below or by going here.
Wrapping up our new cover scheme for the Samantha Owens novels is the 4th book in the series, WHAT LIES BEHIND. For your enjoyment, here is the origin blog post for the book, which was a complicated one indeed.
On July 24, 2013, I read a story about a young med school student named Paul DeWolf who’d been killed in his apartment. No motive, no witnesses, no suspects. By all accounts, DeWolf was an exceptional young man. He excelled in everything from school to his military training to sports and his faith. He was perfect. Everything about him foretold a brilliant future. And here he was, his promising young life cut short. I couldn’t get him out of my mind. I read everything I could find on the case. And there was a single conclusion to be drawn.
It was a perfect murder…
That became the first line of WHAT LIES BEHIND. I let my imagination run, wrote up a somewhat outlandish proposal. By August 12 I had a title, one that fit beautifully with the idea of a locked room mystery, and the futility of a life lost too soon. The title comes from the Thoreau (or perhaps Emerson, no one knows) quote:
What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us
are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
Oddly enough, the day I decided on the title, I was in Ace Hardware looking for plants, and saw a plaque with beautiful birds on it. Up close, I realized it was the very quote I’d used to title the book. (I snatched it up, and it resides in my office in a spot of honor.) I knew then I had something special. Sometimes, the universe tells you when you’re on the right track.
In October, I submitted the proposal, which my agent and editor loved. I shelved the story until April 2014, when I was finished with my six months of the year I dedicate to Catherine and could think about it.
I started writing April 3. My publisher needed an excerpt for the paperback of WHEN SHADOWS FALL, so I wrote an opening. Cobbled it together, really. And in so doing, realized the story I thought I was telling wasn’t the story that wanted to be written.
It happens that way sometimes. You think a book is about one thing, but it surprises you, takes on a life of its own, and suddenly, you’re left with a completely new story. The characters dictate the story, obviously. And a lot happened between October 2013 and April 2014. Weird things, and good things.
Several wonderful people gave money to charity to have their names appear in the book. When I accept these kinds of commissions, I don’t just toss in a name. I want the donor to get their money’s worth. I create real characters, with real purpose to the story. Tommy Cattafi became my dead medical student. Robin Souleyret was his contact, also dead. (There’s another character name I can’t share, because I don’t want to spoil the story for you. You’ll see that one in the acknowledgements.)
And then the story decided it didn’t want to be about dead people. It wanted to have live people, who did amazing things. Every day, while I watched, it wove itself into a completely different entity. Tommy Cattafi wasn’t dead, but gravely injured. Robin Souleyret was very much alive, and a former CIA agent. What? She had a sister who was FBI, and her name was Amanda. She was murdered and Cataffi injured in what looked like a murder suicide. Their names became so intrinsically involved that, because of these character names, the story itself changed. It evolved. It became about Sam and Robin, the push and pull of the investigation, and the power of love.
There were other issues with the story as well. At its heart, WHAT LIES BEHIND is about a bioterror attack on the U.S. using an Ebola-esque hemorrhagic virus. Yeah. Topical much?
I was more than halfway through the writing well before the African outbreak, and as the virus, and the story, continued to spread, I kept having to change the book so it didn't look like I'd stolen the story from the headlines. Because I, apparently, am simply too prescient when it comes to writing about current events.
And then we have Sam and Xander and Fletcher. The backbone of these books. Vital, one might say, to their longevity. Samantha really comes into her own during this investigation. It was such a blast to watch her take over. She’s always been a smart cookie, but now, she’s smart and tough and isn’t about to sit back when she sees injustices. To put it mildly, she kicks ass.
It took five months to write this book, because the story was a moving target, day after day. When I finished the book, I was almost afraid to turn it in. The synopsis I’d given my editor months before was unrecognizable outside of a young man cut down in his prime. Completely different from the finished book. Happily, she loved it, and here we are.
It’s always fascinating to me to relive the writing of a book. WHAT LIES BEHIND was possibly my most challenging to date, simply because it did not behave. It didn’t do what it was told. It’s fitting WHAT LIES BEHIND was the thirteenth novel I’ve written. It seems I’ve just given birth to my first teenager.
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Hello, friends! A fun week has drawn to a close. Toured Chapel Hill with my BFF from high school, took part in a great panel on Villains at the Chapel Hill Library (thanks to Tracy Babiesz, Susan Brown, and my fellow panelists Mary Kubica, Tony Tata, and Grady Hendrix - it was wonderful!) had two dinners with excellent writer friends in two states, spoke on two panels at a writer’s conference in Nashville… and did lots of prep and planning and research for ROL! (Join the Literati if you want to know the title… exclusives, baby!)
And of course — A THOUSAND DOORS is now out into the world! Check out the fun giveaway below…
I’ve been having issues with the blog today, so forgive me if this is truncated. (I wrote a huge expose on the week and it was eaten by the ether, so this one’s a little shorter…)
Let’s take a look at the latest and greatest links!
Here's what happened on the Internets this week:
7 Expert Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Home Library. Great suggestions! I’m thinking about bringing my rainbow scheme to the office next…
How to Manage Your Seasonal Depression. One of the best articles I’ve seen on managing SAD, including my favorite trick, upping your Vitamin D intake.
Hundreds form human chain to move their local bookstore. That's the spirit!
Few things make me happier than a new blog post from my preternaturally talented BFF Ariel Lawhon.
The rise of Lululemon: How America became a nation of yoga pants. Full disclosure, I don’t own any Lululemon after that body image flap, but I do spend 90% of my waking life in yoga pants, and found this fascinating.
The bookshops of Scotland. Anyone else feel the need to plan a visit? Me. Now!
Develop Good Writing Habits with These 5 Effective Tips. Habits are how you have a career as a writer. Get to it!
The Three Scientific Reasons You Shouldn’t Check Your Notifications. “In the same way that those tobacco companies were at fault for promoting something they knew was bad, social media companies are willingly and knowingly taking advantage of a resource they’ve commodified: our attentions. They’ve made us invested using our emotions. Although many of us know now that it’s bad for us, we’re so far in that it’s hard to get out. None of this is accidental.”
And closer to home:
A THOUSAND DOORS is now here! In honor of its release, we’re giving away a $100 gift card to Parnassus Books, my hometown bookstore and a wonderful place to shop—either in person or online.
That's all for now! Start laying in your Thanksgiving supplies, order your holiday cards, gets your kitties some Dr. Pussums magical feline elixir (it’s industrial strength catnip and my girls love it) and I’ll see you next week!
peace and hugs,