Kate Flora: From time to time I get yelled at by my friends, and my readers, for failing to provide updates about my books. Usually, it will be someone who says, “Have I read all your books?” and when I say “Well, have you read all 24, I get a blank stare and then the question: What have I missed?” I know that I’m supposed to have a newsletter. I’ve tried. I used to have a paper one. It’s the electronic thing that defeats me. I tried and wrestled with mailchimp. Tried and failed and wrestled again. I’ve twisted arms to get friends to do it. I’ve begged the universe for a millennial to help. I’ve searched sites that supposedly will let me find the right folks to do it. In the end, I give up and go back to writing. It’s the thing I understand.
But you out there in MCW land, who read our posts and share your comments, do deserve the occasional update. So I thought I’d share a bit of what’s going on here at my desk, or occasionally in front of the frozen peas, where I had frozen myself as I ponder the next steps in the current WIP. So here goes.
First, yes, there is a new Thea Kozak mystery. I thought it was going to be out this summer but publishing’s timetable and Kate’s timetable seem not to be meshed at the moment. In any event, by September, at least, the 11th book in the series, Death Sends a Message, will finally arrive. Writing the book, as I have perhaps complained of here before, has been a huge challenge. Those of you who know Thea also know that she’s a rescuer. She describes herself as “Thea the Human Tow Truck” who can’t help stopping and rescuing people she passes along the way who are clearly in need of assistance. In the new book, I have given her an enormous new challenge: she and Andre finally have the baby they’ve been longing for, and a newborn puts quite a crimp in her ability to go out and solve crimes.
I knew this was going to be a challenge for Thea before I started the book. I still didn’t anticipate how much of challenge it was going to be for me—the writer. How does a new mother, stuck at home, go about collecting the necessary information? Obviously, people have to come to her. She has to fall back on her research skills. She will need to lean heavily on those observational skills that Andre has been teaching her. Between them, it was a game. In this case, though, it goes far beyond that.
The book opens when she has to go to Freeport to try and find her baby a hat, something she neglected to buy in advance. (She was a bit busy, you will recall from reading Death Comes Knocking with bad guys and a missing neighbor and a few bodies across the street, never mind delivering someone else’s baby.) Before she goes into the store, she sees another young mother happily enjoying an ice cream cone and decides that will be her next stop. When she comes out, having found a little yellow cap embroidered with a slightly tipsy duck, the cone is gone and the young woman is screaming that her baby is missing. Despite her resolve to avoid getting involved in anything other than her own baby and her maternity leave, she can’t ignore the woman’s desperation. She stops, asks a few questions, and flags down a passing police officer. Then she goes home. But those few minutes embroil her in a case not only of a missing baby, but of a homicide, and the young mother’s own disappearance.
Wow. So much for Thea’s maternity leave. Add in a crisis at a client school only she can handle, and there’s not a lot of peace and quiet.
Like many authors, I have a bunch of what I call “Books in the Drawer.” These are books that I’m still tweaking, or that haven’t sold yet. One of the books in the drawer is one that I love but my agent didn’t, Teach Her a Lesson. It’s a domestic thriller about a young female school teacher who finds herself accused of an affair with a student. She knows his story is false and that it’s all in his head, but the school administration won’t listen. As people she thought were her friends turn against her, and the lurid details of her supposed relationship are everywhere, her life becomes a car wreck. Worse, while she struggles to prove her innocence, her tormenter is losing patience with the slow pace of the justice system and begins to plot his own revenge. I am thrilled to share that in 2023, the book will be published by Encircle Publications and I will get to join the Encircle family.
Enough, right? Ah, but there’s more. From time to time, when I’m between stories or just need a break from all the darkness of the types of books I write, I go write something completely different. Examples of this are the two novellas, Girl’s Night Out (warning: this is very short) and Be My Little Sugar https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07G2Y6FCT?ref=knfdg_R_kine_which feature a woman’s book group taking revenge on men behaving badly. Well, a while back I wrote a short story about a woman ghosted by her boyfriend who gets a shelter dog to help her get her life back on track. The story was called Unleashed Love, because the dog turns out to have a talent for matchmaking. During the pandemic, I dug out that story and turned it into a novel. My beta readers tell me that it is women’s fiction, and my next task (along with writing the next Joe Burgess book, of course) is to go through all those beta comments and do a rewrite of the book. Who knows, by next summer, it may join the other books on the list.
Or become another one of my books that you can complain I forgot to tell you about.
I’ll try to be better with those updates, I promise. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read the last Joe Burgess, A World of Deceit, you can spend some quality time with Joe and his team on a not so peaceful lake in the lovely mountains of Western Maine. Jet skis. Malevolent teens. Family dysfunction. The father who won’t wake up? Detective Joe Burgess, it turns out, isn’t very good at going on vacation.