The Cruelest Month
I know T.S. Eliot handed it to April, but I’m going to nominate the grueling period from August 27th until I began writing this letter, a month to the day since my deeply loved father died.
His loss being the reason for the slow, sludgy, sorrowfulness of this time, of course. But also, a handful of things ranging from worrisome to fearsome managed to land on top of that avalanche, all but burying me.
Most of the others seem to be resolving, thank goodness. Now I can get back to grieving my father.
Thank you all for reading my tribute, and your outpouring of feeling and support. Every email, card, and gift you sent me meant so much—a spark during the hardest road I’ve ever had to walk. I reached back out to every single one of you, but if I missed anyone, please write again. Eyes blurry with tears, sleepless bouts at night, not to mention Thunderbird’s habit of swallowing emails—amazing how tech glitches persist even when you’re in mourning—might’ve caused me to miss something.
There are a few upcoming things
Life crawls on, doesn’t it? And while part of me is inclined to just scrub the entire month of October so I can sit and stare at old photographs of my father, he wouldn’t want me to do that. Not just in a you-have-to-live-while-you-can kind of way, but because right after being a father, my dad was a teacher, who loved—really derived joy from—being in front of a class.
I love teaching too. Taking writers to new levels of suspense in their work, coaching them through the get-published process. Murder on the Beach, a darling mystery bookstore in Delray, Florida is offering a roster of classes on craft that will help you get your novel from idea to on-a-bookstore-shelf. Thinking about the one I'm going to teach, I feel a tiny trickle of joy, like a spring shoot poking through the soil. And I know my dad would understand why.If you are one of the majority who finds public-speaking terror-inducing, I have a few tips that can help with the fear. Don't hesitate to reach out.
In 2021, events still tend to be virtual, and on October 1st I'll be speaking in support of Only the Good Die Young, an anthology of crime stories inspired by Billy Joel. If you're a fan of the Piano Man, these stories really bring the music to eerie life.
We Could All Use a Little Justice Right Now
My dad loved a good justice play. In this way every book I write can be said to be for him. And on October’s Rogue Reads I get to interview the OG author of the longest-lived series of rollicking justice ever, who is handing over the reins to his brother. You know who I’m talking about. Plus another Lee, and last but very not least, one of my favorite authors of more-than-domestic suspense. Sign up to be in the Zoom Room and get to meet this amazing lineup.
In the Spotlight
After my father died, I felt selfish. I had trouble just thinking about other people. My loss felt all-consuming; there was no room for others’ struggles, or even their joys.
But one of the things I’ve always loved most is shining a light on writers. And as I dip my feet into the toe-curling waters of normalcy, there’s no one I’d rather begin with than Helaine Mario, the uber talented, sensitive and nuanced author of the Maggie O’Shea books.
The main character of my classical music suspense series, Boston pianist Maggie O’Shea, spent over a year sleeping in a desk drawer. I never believed I would publish one book, let alone three. But there is always a story behind the story…
I knew that my first manuscript, The Lost Concerto, was in trouble when my agent called and said, “Pour yourself a stiff drink.” Countless rejections later, I parted with the agent and locked my manuscript (along with my confidence) in a drawer. I didn’t write for over a year. But the characters kept knocking, and I knew they deserved life - especially my pianist Maggie, grieving the loss of her husband and her music. Brutal editing followed. I deepened my core characters and added complex new ones, leading to a new plot. I re-told Maggie’s story through the emotional chords of the Grieg Piano Concerto. Finally, I introduced a rescue Golden who brought humor and humanity. My publisher loved it.
In SHADOW MUSIC, Rachmaninoff is at the heart of Maggie’s story. Past and present collide as Maggie is drawn to Cornwall in a harrowing search for a missing Van Gogh and the truth behind her husband’s death. I’m forever grateful that I trusted my characters and answered that ‘knock on the drawer.’
And On a Happy Note
We have a winner of Karin Slaughter’s summer blockbuster, False Witness! Patricia B., congratulations, and I will be in touch so I can send your brand new hardcover book.
As I march through this valley, please know that I am grateful to all of you for encouraging me onward. Here is my hand back, extended to everyone also trying to walk. We're on this journey together.
Love from the Hills of Wedeskyull,