The Next Big Thing

Evil-in-All-its-DisguisesI’ve been enjoying the Next Big Thing blog hop that’s been going around for the past couple of months, even if I have resisted getting involved. (Travel, deadlines, and family illness all played a role — there’s been a lot going on lately.) But it’s a new year and my engaging, talented friend Sandra Brannan roped me in. (Thanks, Sandra!)

1: What is the working title of your book(s)?


THE NEXT ONE TO FALL (2012; coming in paperback on February 12, 2013)

EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES (coming March 5, 2013)

BOOK #4 (I kid you not — I have trouble coming up with titles until very late in the process. This won’t be out until spring 2014, so I still have time!)

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

Usually the characters come to me first, but the process was different with EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES. It’s the third book in the Lily Moore series, so I’ve been hanging out with some of the characters for a while, but this is the first time I’ve written a novel that was inspired by a real-life crime. More about that below, in #9.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Mystery and suspense.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is one of those questions I can’t even begin to answer, partly because I’m so out of touch with movies being released right now. In 2012, I think I saw two in theaters: The Avengers and Argo.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

When travel writer Lily Moore arrives in Acapulco for a press trip, an old friend asks for her help investigating hotel fraud; but when that friend vanishes — and the resort blocks an investigation into her disappearance — Lily is determined to find the truth.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

My books are published by Forge, a division of Macmillan. The Forge people are phenomenal.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft of this book took about four months, but I’m a big believer in revising. No human eyes — besides my own — ever see my first drafts.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I always have trouble coming up with comparisons, but I think there are some similarities to books by Laura Lippman and Lisa Unger.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

In 2000, when I was writing guidebooks for Frommer’s, a young, female editor from the company went missing while on a press trip. It’s a horrifying story, in part because the resort she disappeared from tried to pretend nothing was wrong. Later, as her disappearance got more media attention, the resort tried to blame the editor, claiming that she was using drugs and sleeping around. EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES begins with the disappearance of a journalist during a press trip, and while the novel goes in a very different direction from what happened in real life, there are elements — such as the resort trying to blame the victim — that are part of the narrative. The real-life story resonated with me partly because the editor and I were about the same age, and she was an experienced traveler, which was how I thought of myself, too. It was harrowing to realize that a resort might cover up a crime to avoid scaring tourists away. The editor’s body had never been found.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

If you’re one of the readers who’s trying to figure out Bruxton’s first name, you’re in luck. There’s a huge clue in this book. A lot of people have written to me about his name, and the most frequent guess is Humphrey. (That’s not his name.) I’m thinking of coming up with a prize for the first person to guess the correct name. What do you think?

The final part of the Next Big Thing blog hop is to tag some wonderful writers you need to know. Most of these writers have already done Next Big Thing blog posts, but check out their websites:

Sandra Brannan, who writes the gritty and fabulous Liv Bergen mysteries

Robin Spano, who writes the wickedly sharp Claire Vengel mysteries (I’m reading her third, DEATH’S LAST RUN right now; early review: awesome)

B.V. Lawson, who runs the excellent In Reference to Murder site (uh oh; I just remembered I owe her a blog post)

Keith Rawson, author of LAUGHING AT DEAD MEN, who tried to get me to do this blog weeks ago

Sara Blaedel, a Danish writer who I had the pleasure of meeting at BookExpo last year — watch for her Next Big Thing post next Wednesday!



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