There’s a new book coming, and it’s called Field of Bones. Joanna Brady #18 goes on sale September 4. (Wait, how can there be that many of those already? Didn’t I just start writing them yesterday? I guess time flies when you’re having fun.)
Spoiler alert: In this book JOANNA HAS THE BABY! It’s a girl! The last time Joanna was expecting, the story-line for Denny’s pregnancy and birth meandered through three separate books. This time it’s only two. Oh, and she WINS THE ELECTION! The problem is, if she didn’t win, that would most likely mean the end of the series. I’m not ready for that, and I doubt my readers are, either.
Regular readers of my blog have already seen this information, but newsletter readers may not be aware of it, so I’m repeating it, just to be on the safe side. I’m having issues with my right shoulder. It doesn’t interfere with typing—I’m icing it right now—but it interferes with traveling. Things like dragging luggage around airports or lifting it into an overhead compartment aren’t in my wheelhouse right now. So for this time out, I’ve taken the book tour off the table. That’s why there are no scheduled events posted—there aren’t any. Some retailers will have signed but not personalized books available. Barnes and Noble stores will have a limited number available nationwide. Poisoned Pen in Scottsdale, Mostly Books in Tucson, and V.J. Books in Portland will have signed books as well. (By the way, the last one mentioned is an on-line presence only—no brick and mortar.) In addition, copies of Field of Bones sold by Costco will have an additional piece in it—an essay recounting the story of how a chance encounter with a serial killer in 1970 ended up bringing me into the world of mystery writing some fifteen years later.
All that is to say I’m sorry I won’t have a chance to meet up with any of you on the road, but them’s the breaks.
Where did this book come from? One of the characters, Latisha Marcum, showed up in my head and wouldn’t go away. She is by turns naive, tough, resilient, brave, stubborn, and ultimately believably triumphant. The thing is, she didn’t go away even after I finished writing the book. A week or so after I completed the manuscript, I had a dream about Latisha in which the two of us sat down and had a long conversation. I knew I was the writer. She had no idea. It’s the first and only time in all my years of being a writer that I actually dreamt about one of my characters.
Most of the action in FOB, as we call it around here, takes place in the corner of Arizona that stretches from Douglas east to the New Mexico border, right along with the border with Mexico. People in Cochise County routinely refer to those two entities as New Mexico and Old Mexico respectively. Whenever I make that differentiation in one of my books, I receive E-MOOs (E-mails of Outrage) explaining in high dudgeon that there’s no such thing as Old Mexico. Sometimes, however, that’s what you get to do when you write regional books—you get to BE regional.
That seemingly empty corner of Arizona comes loaded with history. Skeleton Canyon in the Peloncillo Mountains is where Geronimo surrendered. The Mormon Battalion passed through Skeleton Canyon, too, where they found the terrain so steep that they had to disassemble their wagons and raise and lower them and their livestock by using a block and tackle. And it was here in the San Bernardino Valley that Texas John Slaughter lived and ranched while also serving as the Sheriff of Cochise County. I find Arizona endlessly fascinating, and I hope my readers do, too.
One of the advantages of writing a series is watching as a character evolves over time. We’ve seen Joanna’s daughter, Jenny, grow up before our eyes. In this book, she’s off to college. Not only is Joanna juggling two little ones in FOB, a kindergartener and a newborn, she’s also struggling with a new role in life. In the previous book, Downfall, she was preoccupied with the details of losing her mother and stepfather and with planning Eleanor’s and George’s joint funeral and memorial services. Now she’s stepping out as the “older generation.” She’s now the grownup in the room because she has to be. Let’s see how she handles it.
Enjoy, and happy Dog Days of Summer.
Avoid the heat wherever possible.