Dodging and Burning has been nominated for the Anthony, the Macavity, the Barry, the Strand Critics, and the Lammy. I’m still reeling from all the news. I’ll be honest with you, I’m terrible at taking a compliment, and I’m suspicious that awards don’t mean what they seem to mean. (i.e. “Don’t get a big head, John! Nurture your internal critic.”). Perhaps I overthink things, perhaps this exposes my insecurities, or perhaps—just maybe—I created something deserving of recognition. I don’t know.
My dominant feeling, though, is gratefulness. I’m grateful for enthusiastic readers, grateful to other writers and publishing industry professionals who’ve supported me, and I’m grateful for the privilege to be able to write creatively—a privilege denied to many. So, I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: Thank you!
Having organized the Lost River Writers Retreat (see photo: Gale Massey, Jessica Hendry Nelson, Molly Gallentine, me, and Jennifer Bundy), and attended Thrillerfest and OutWrite2019 this summer, my mind has been on the importance of community to writers. Writing is a strange and solitary activity, a little like dreaming. It can be isolating, even disorienting.
Writers need community
It’s important for writers to find each other, support each other, and laugh at this crazy thing we do. Whether it’s a big international event like Thrillerfest or Bouchercon, or something local like OutWrite2019, or a small group like the retreat I organize, I don’t think I’d find the writing life as compelling without that time to socialize and learn from other writers.
Oops … I did it again!
Okay, I did it. I finished the revision of my next novel and sent it to my agent, Annie Bomke. I let my baby go, and now I’m waiting for the feedback. It’s how parents must feel when they send their children to school in the fall.
Like Dodging and Burning, this new book is set in the late 1940s. I like to think of it as a mash-up of Nancy Drew and Peter Jackson’s film Heavenly Creatures, a sympathetic coming-of-age story for the femme fatale.
It’s one of three books I’m proposing about the same characters, tracing their lives and their descent into criminality through the 1950s. My guiding questions for the trilogy are: To what degree are women (and later in the series, gay men) oppressed by the dominant morality of this time period? When they buck the system and do bad things—even murder—can we have empathy for them? Can we even condone their behavior?
I’m excited to see how it all evolves!