Monday, February 8, 2021

Essentially...

Back at the beginning of the 2020 lockdowns, a reader wrote to thank me for the few hours of distraction my latest book had provided (love to get those kinds of e-mails!).  She concluded by saying “You are an essential worker, too.”  I was deeply touched and flattered, then somewhat astonished as more letters echoing that sentiment began to come in.    We all know what an important part of our lives books are, but essential on the same level as groceries and UPS deliveries?  I’d never really thought about it before.

As the global crisis wore on…and on…and on, I came to understand for myself just how essential books, and the people who write them, are.  They provide more than an escape when life spins out of control.  They provide engagement in times of isolation, friends in times of loneliness, hope in the face of despair.  They give us something to look forward to when it sometimes feels as though there is literally nothing else.

I recall a conversation many years ago with the librarian of our small town.  She agonized over having to go to the county commissioners in an effort to persuade them to give her money for the library that might otherwise go to essential services like the fire department or EMTs.  “I know they’re saving lives,” she said, “but I’m trying to save the things that make life worth living.”

I’d like to take this opportunity to salute all the books (and the writers who created them!) that made life worth living this past year. Like most of you, I read many more than can be listed here, but here are a few of the ones that really took me away from it all, the ones that were hard to put down and that I couldn’t wait to get back to—in other words, the perfect pandemic reading.  Maybe you’d like to check some of them out!

Devoted by Dean Koontz

No Exit by Taylor Adams

The Last Flight by Julie Clark

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

 Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

The Rumor by Leslie Kara

One by One by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Camino Winds by John Grisham

  Which essential books saved your sanity this past year?

 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Finally!




Looking back on previous launch-day posts, I realize that they almost always begin with “Finally!” or “At Last!” I always feel as though I’m making my readers wait too long for the next book, and, according to the e-mails I get, they feel that way too.   This book is no different.  It seems as though I’ve been working on Flash in the Dark forever, but it’s actually only been a year.  The fact that the year was 2020 may have colored my perception, but I can honestly say it was the longest year of my life.

One of the basic tenets of mystery writing is to maintain suspense.  Always keep the reader anxious to find out what happens next, whether it’s in the next paragraph, the next chapter, or, sometimes, the next book.  The downside of this is that when you leave readers wondering what happens next, you eventually have to tell them.

In Flash of Brilliance an evil character is introduced and the suggestion is made that he may be related to our protagonist.  In Pieces of Eight, we come closer to finding out the true identity of this character, and what his motivations might be. Given that there has been an average of 18 months between each book, readers have been incredibly patient waiting to have their questions answered.    In Flash in the Dark,    it all comes together—all the tiny puzzle pieces find their places, all the questions find their answers, nothing is left unfinished.  It took a while to figure out.  It wasn’t easy.  But it’s finished.  Finally.

A lot happens in Flash in the Dark, and in fact, this is the longest of all the Dogleg Island mysteries.  Pete and Lorraine welcome a new family member.  Aggie finally gets the answers about her father she has sought.  Grady unearths a dangerous plot orchestrated by a secret organization with sinister connections to the past. Angelo’s true identity is revealed.  The citizens of Dogleg Island rise up to meet a crisis that will leave each one of them forever changed. And Flash, whose only goal has always been to protect and serve the people he loves, learns new lessons about the state of humanity and its ever-evolving complexity.  It took a lot of words to bring all of this together.  But here it is at last: Flash in the Dark, the book you’ve been waiting so long for.

Gosh, I hope you like it.