Thursday, September 26, 2013

Characters and Necklaces and Galleys, Oh My!

I've received a lot of great questions in response to my "Ask Me Anything" post, so I thought I'd start answering some. 

JustWingingIt asks: Which character has evolved the most from what you initially intended - either taking a more prominent role in the story arc or less of one?

That would be Jamie Knox. Although I hinted at his existence earlier, I didn't actually introduce him until When Maidens Mourn. Before I begin writing a book, I always type up a fairly detailed 15-20 page outline, and the initial plot line for Maidens actually called for Knox to die near the end of that book. But I liked him so much as a character and I could see so much potential for him in future books, that I reworked the plot and kept him alive.

JustWingingIt also asks: Will Sebastian ever discover that his mother's necklace has 'chosen' Hero?

Hero hasn't worn the necklace because the clasp needed fixing (and because I was waiting for the right point in the series' story arc to be able to give it the necessary time and attention). I don't want to give too much away, but I can say the necklace comes back in a big way in Who Buries the Dead and will also play a part in book #11, (which doesn't have a title yet and is at this point only a gleam in my eye).

I've spent much of this past week going over the galleys for Why Kings Confess. I also spent a fair amount of time collecting images for the cover conference being held this week for the first of the new covers they're doing for the earlier books in the series. And then, just when I thought I could get back to writing, the galleys for the mass market paperback edition of What Darkness Brings appeared on my doorstep! 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ask Me Anything Monday

I'm going to try something new here. Is there something you've wanted to know about me or the Sebastian St. Cyr books or any of my other books? If so, click on Comments and ask your question, and I'll do my best to answer.

Rather than answer the questions in the comments section, I'll be answering in upcoming posts. If the answers are short enough, I'll combine a few; if the question requires a longer or more thoughtful answer, or just inspires me to ramble, it might be a post of its own. I also reserve the right to pass on any questions, and I won't give away any secrets.

So, What do you want to know? Fire away.

And yes, that is a picture of my notebook this morning as I sat down to write; almost finished Part Three and getting ready to move on to Part Four. And yes, the book is due soon and I am horribly behind....

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Hold Part of That Happy Dance...

So, the good news is that books eleven and twelve are coming.

But... Number 9, Why Kings Confess, will be published in March 2014. Number 10, Who Buries the Dead will be released in March 2015. Number Eleven is scheduled for March 2016. And Number Twelve is scheduled for March 2016.

I know, I know. Believe me, it's all been very confusing. Part of the problem is that the proposed shifting dates were confusing me, the publisher, and the booksellers. Plus, booksellers and readers have grown accustomed to seeing a new Sebastian St. Cyr book come out in March. Soooo, while I will still be writing to a faster schedule, it has been decided that for now we will stick to the March release dates. Then, when I've turned in so many books ahead of time that I'm hopelessly confused, the extra book will be released in November, with the next Sebastian book after that following close behind again in March.

Confused? The fault is all mine for broadcasting what I thought was the firm scheduling for Who Buries the Dead, but was not. I was saying, "Why didn't anyone tell me?" when the truth was I hadn't been told because it was actually not the done deal I thought it was. I mean...

Oh, nevermind. At any rate, sorry for the confusion, sorry for getting everyone's hopes up only to dash them. Sorry, sorry, sorry.

The silver lining in all of this is that eventually there be two Sebastian books published in one year, only that year will not be 2014. At the moment it's looking like it may be 2016, but don't quote me on that!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Good News!

Readers of the Sebastian St. Cyr series will be happy to hear that I have accepted a new contract for two more Sebastian books, numbers eleven and twelve.

And here's something I am really excited about: my publishers are so happy with the cover of Why Kings Confess that they are planning to go back and redo some of the less successful covers from the past, using this same cover artist. I said, "Can we please start with What Remains of Heaven?" But I'm not sure where they'll start. (With my luck they'll redo the Angels cover, which I have always loved.)

There's a lot more going on that I can't talk about just yet, including more promotion and some trips to mystery bookstores around the country. My publishers are excited about the series, and for that I have to thank you all, my readers.

UPDATE: Parts of this post have been removed because of changing circumstances! Please see more recent post.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Blog Interview!

I have a new interview up at the blog Mysteries and My Musings. The blog owner, Ariel, asks some great questions. So if you ever wanted to know why I write, how I go about coming up with the idea for a new murder, what Sebastian and I have in common, how I go about creating characters, or who my favorite literary sleuth is, head on over there!

Also, I have some great news coming up, so stay tuned....

Friday, September 06, 2013

Reconsidering Jane

I have a confession to make: I never liked Jane Austen. Oh, I enjoyed the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice as much as the next woman. But the books themselves left me cold, even back in the day when my teenaged self was gamely plowing through a list of One Hundred Books Every Educated Person Should Have Read, given me by some well-meaning high school English teacher. (I am probably the the only student she handed that list who actually kept it and tried to read them all. I was soooo determined to be an Educated Person.)

I tried reading Jane again in my 30s when I was writing romances and the Austen craze was sweeping Hollywood. Once again, my reaction was, "Eh."

But the plot of Who Buries the Dead, the Sebastian book I'm currently writing, happens to involve Jane Austen.  So I started reading Austen biographies and her letters, then moved on (with a loud groan) to her novels. The first one--Sense and Sensibility--I still loathe. But then I tried Persuasion, and wonder of all wonders, I liked it. I mean, I really liked it. The BBC's Pride and Prejudice is so faithful to the book that I could hear the actors' voices echoing in my head as I read it, making the experience impossible to judge. But I'm now halfway through Emma (a book I started and abandoned at least three times in the past) and I find myself enjoying it, too, albeit not as much.

Why the shift? Perhaps it's because I'm reading them as e-books, and I find I read faster electronically. But I think part of it is because I didn't come at them this time looking for a romance or even a story. I'm reading for voice and social observations, and so for perhaps the first time I find myself actually enjoying all those funny, nasty things Jane says about almost everyone.

Because the truth is that while she cloaks her venom in humor, Jane Austen peoples her books with a collection of characters who are almost without exception self-absorbed, hypocritical, silly, pompous, self-indulgent, self-delusional, stupid, weak, and/or vain. It's impossible to read Austen and not come away with the conclusion that she had an extraordinarily low opinion of the vast majority of her fellow men, and that the Austen family delighted in the endless lampooning of their acquaintances and neighbors (and probably each other).

In fact, the portrayals are so relentlessly uncharitable that at first they made me uncomfortable. But the truth is, I have a pretty low tolerance for self-delusion, hypocrisy, and vanity myself. And here's the thing about Austen's characters: they may be silly and self-absorbed, but they are rarely evil. Their cruelties are almost always the result of their selfishness, their obsession with wealth and status, or their greed. George Wickham is perhaps the most undiluted villain in her books, a true textbook-worthy sociopath; others such as Willoughby and Crawford are above all else weak. Obviously, Jane knew of the existence of evil only too well. But she found moral weakness more interesting--and useful.

I still think the push to elevate Austen to the same heights as Shakespeare is misguided. Her language is studied and contorted rather than lyrical, and her plots are episodic and weak. But I no longer agree with Mark Twain, who wanted to dig her up and hit her over the head with her own shinbone. Jane Austen's shining talent was her ability to take ordinary life and people and, by her biting wit and astute observations, make them both memorable and endlessly entertaining. And that is a rare talent indeed.