“When is your next book coming out?”
If you’ve ever published a book (my last one came out in January 2019, in what feels now like another lifetime), then you’ve heard this question. If you were lucky enough to have a multi-book contract, you had an answer.
I didn’t have an answer. I used to say something like, “Ha, ha, someday, I hope!” Then I’d ask after the health of the person’s family, real quick.
It’s the question you don’t want to hear if the honest answer is “I have no idea.” There’s a little stomach-flip that goes along with it every time: the decision to have another book be published rarely belongs to the author. It’s entirely dependent on a publisher wanting to publish it. The question is especially difficult to hear if the true, complete, a-little-bit unhinged answer is, “Maybe never: I only had a contract for one book, and my agent didn’t like my next book, so I had to search for a new agent for three months, and then it took three more months to edit that book for her, and then I bit my nails to the quick for six soul-killing months on submission, and each rejection from publishers added to my growing despair that maybe I’d already climbed the highest publishing mountain I would ever climb and I didn’t have enough sense to look around and enjoy the view!”
Whew. That was a mouthful, and I promise you it was a fairly miserable state of being, too.
This story has a happy ending, however!
Back in the summer of 2017, I gave in and began watching Game of Thrones, years after everyone else. Easily my favorite character right from the start was Cersei Lannister, and specifically, Cersei Lannister as a mother. Absolutely convinced that her exalted privilege exempts her from the rules and morals that everyone else lives by, she’s entirely without redeeming qualities except that she will do anything for her children. My brain played with the idea. What if that isn’t a coincidence? What if motherhood itself made her so ruthless? We assume that mothers are serene, giving people who put aside everything for their children’s happiness, but yet we all know women who admit in their darkest hours that, maybe, possibly, motherhood makes them just a touch…disturbed.
Possibilities started to boil. If I had a ruthless mother who’d do anything for her children, she’d be in the PTA, of course, interacting with mothers of all different stripes. She’d own the PTA. She’d smile sweetly and teach her kids to say “sir” and “ma’am” and people would get hurt in her wake. I started typing, and Kira Grant was born, along with her lawyer, Allison Barton, yet another mother with motives of her own. THE DARKEST FLOWER is full of poisonous gardens and badly-behaved moms and murder-y fifth-grade graduation parties.
I finished the manuscript in October of 2017 and put it aside because Lying Beneath the Oaks was headed out into the world (publishing takes forever). I’d hoped to send THE DARKEST FLOWER out to publishers in early 2019, but I changed agents and it didn’t go out until September 2019. I got the news it—and a sequel, hallelujah, AND an audiobook—would be published by Thomas & Mercer, a division of Amazon, on Friday, March 13, 2020, the lucky/unlucky day the pandemic closed my children’s schools and started to wreak havoc on all of our lifestyles in earnest.
When does my next book come out? I can finally give an answer: THE DARKEST FLOWER is coming JUNE 8, 2021.
Cue the socially distant celebration. And wash your hands.
THE DARKEST FLOWER:
LYING BENEATH THE OAKS: