When I asked Pamela what she wanted me to blog about, she said "the magic of being an author."
My first thought was that it's not always so magical. That looming deadline, those copy edits and page proofs that arrive when I have a streaming cold and are wanted back within three days--and how about those East Coast morning show interviews that make me stand shivering in my pjs, trying to sound bright and perky at three a.m., or the book tour in July when it's 117 degrees in Scottsdale and I have ten stores to visit? Being an author is often hard work. It's sitting in front of a computer and making myself write five pages when I don't feel like writing anything.
But then I open my emails and there is a message from someone telling me how my Lady Georgie or Molly or Evan book has just helped her through chemo, and I'm reminded that there is a magical side. Seeing my books on a bookstore shelf never gets old. Seeing a woman reading one across the aisle on a flight recently gives me an incredible thrill. Meeting fans who have driven two hundred miles to a book signing is a humbling and bewildering experience for me. So yes, I guess it is magical that I can start with the germ of an idea--how about if Molly met Houdini? And six months later it is a completed story, ready to be turned into a book. It is magical to be blessed with a gift of words and with the perserverance to shape those words into stories that readers like.
I've now written 24 mystery novels and I begin each new book with a sense of panic. What if the plot won't work out this time? What if I don't know whodunit at the end? The first fifty pages are pure torture. Then the story crystalizes, the writing gets easier and the last half of the book romps along merrily. It's the same process every time but I still can't calm those fears and self doubts that start each new book.
I'm just about to start on a new Molly book next week, so I'm in the worry stage at the moment. I know where it will take place--in Chinatown, and I know who is going to die, but that's about all. I've read many interesting books about the history of the Chinese in America. Every new Molly book educates me in another sphere. The research is an aspect I love about writing historical novels. I had such fun researching Houdini, who will figure prominently in The Last Illusion--in stores March 2, 2010.
And I had even more fun with my next Lady Georgie book: Georgie is sent to represent the family at a royal wedding in Europe. Only the wedding is in Transylvania. Georgie doesn't exactly believe in vampires, but what is crawling up the wall and why does the bride have blood dripping down her chin? I really wanted to do a spoof on all the vampire frenzy--to keep it funny but scary at the same time. It comes out in September and is called Royal Blood.
And tomorrow I'm off to Arizona to join the rest of my family at a lodge in the mountains near Sedona for Thanksgiving. This has become a wonderful tradition. The grandkids have a ball and the grown ups hike and play and eat and sit by a roaring fire. Perfect.
So I'm wishing everyone who reads this a wonderful holiday season and happy reading in 2010.