Thursday, August 11, 2016

Good Time Coming

Almost every writer I know has what we call a "book of the heart." It's a story idea that grabs our imagination and won't let go even though we know there's something about the story that will make it really, really hard to sell to New York. Sometimes that "hard sell" aspect is setting (Outer Mongolia, anyone?); sometimes it's subject matter (say, American atrocities in WWII).

The book of my heart is called GOOD TIME COMING. It's a story idea that possessed me way back in 2001, when I was writing my Civil War mystery, Midnight Confessions. As I did the research for that novel, I found I wanted to write a different book: the story of the war in Louisiana as seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old girl. I wanted to write about the war the women and children lived; how they survived increasing hardship and danger, and how it changed them.

I started reading diaries and letters and memoirs by the hundreds: I visited Civil War battle sites like Port Hudson, Bayou Sara, and Camp Moore. And then, in the autumn of 2012 when I finished Why Kings Confess comfortably ahead of deadline, I seized the moment. In a white heat of 18+ hour days, seven days a week, I wrote GOOD TIME COMING.

I'd never written anything like it before and I was more than a bit worried about my ability to pull it off. But I can honestly say the manuscript exceeded my wildest expectations. I sent it to my agent, and she was over the moon. It quickly found several editors who waxed poetical about it. One called it "a women's Red Badge of Courage"; another said it was like To Kill a Mockingbird meets Cold Mountain. But in the end, no New York publishing house would buy it.

Why? Because of the subject matter. The Civil War in Louisiana was not pretty. U.S. soldiers did terrible things here, things that most Americans would rather not know about. At the same time, Southerners did things their descendants would rather forget. Look at those days through the unblinkingly honest eyes of a thirteen-year-old, and you have a story that terrifies New York.

For three years that manuscript languished in my cupboard. To say I was heartbroken would be a massive understatement--I mean, this was the book of my heart, right? But I can now tell you that the book no American house had the courage to print has finally found a publisher--a British publisher. It will be released in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa in September, and in the U.S. in December.

I've been sitting on this news for a while now and I've been about to burst. The last time I felt this giddy was back in 1997, when I sold my very first novel.  I am really, really proud of this book, so you'll be hearing more about it soon.


Charles Gramlich said...

I remember you talking about this book but I don't know if I knew you'd finished it. Glad to see it will be published. I look forward to reading it.

Ali said...

wow candy - that is so exciting for you!! congratulations. I'm sure it will be a great success. Best, Ali

Willa said...

Congratulations! I spotted this book on Amazon UK about 6 weeks ago when I was looking to pre-order Where the Dead Lie. It is in stock there now in hardcover, with a publication date of the 2nd August.

Lynne said...

I can understand why no publisher wanted it - just reading anything about the "un-Civil" War often either breaks my heart or makes my skin crawl. I think we're all very proud of you that it's finally off the ground, so to speak! Well done, Candy!!

Ali said...

ok so curiosity got the better of me and i went to UK amazon and it shows the book will be available on august 31. and you can pre-order. this is for hardcover only. ali

Rachel Walsh said...

Oh, wow, this sounds terrific! Having studied American History - heavily slanted to the Civil War - in my final year of Australian high school, I cannot wait to read this. Especially as it's also your book of the heart. Pre-ordering now! :-)

JustWingingIt said...

Looks like I'll be getting this through Book Depository ( It's $20.40 but it's free shipping worldwide.

Congrats on finding a home for a book that means so much to you.


cs harris said...

Charles, it's been a long time coming.

Ali, thank you.

Willa, I just checked with my editor and he tells me it is now slated for the end of August in the UK.

Lynne, it was a very hard time. There's a lot of heartache in this book, although it is also very inspiring.

Ali, I have asked him why the ebook isn't showing up for preorder, and he's looking into it.

Rachel, thank you!

Veronica, I'm not familiar with them. Looking into it.

paz said...

Thinking about you a lot with all the flooding troubles in Louisiana. I know New Orleans has been largely spared, but I am sure it must bring back bad memories.

cs harris said...

Paz, thank you. It really has--it's made me realize that I just pushed all those emotions down without ever dealing with them, which is not healthy.

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