Postpartum Depression

That’s where I am right now, in that odd place where I’ve finally delivered a manuscript that took fifteen months to create, and I’m waiting to hear back from my editor.

Years ago, while reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography, I learned that’s the time when she was usually convinced that she would never write another book. Turns out, that’s where I was, too, until a couple of days ago. Of course, having already sold the next Joanna Brady book, not writing it isn’t an option.

During the winter in Seattle, I write in the family room. During the spring and summer and often well into fall (with the help of overhead heating) I can sit out on the back porch.

So this week, while I was thinking and NOT writing … (Yes, Mr. Short-Tail is alive and well. He’s on the bird feeder right now, and although he can fly much better now, he still generally stays put when I’m walking by. But I digress!)

I was sitting here thinking when a totally suitable bad guy for the next Joanna Brady book popped into my head. And now, hang onto your hats, because here comes another digression.

In 1982, when I sat down to write my first novel, it was a thinly fictionalized version of a true crime story about my first husband’s and my encounter with a serial killer in Tucson in 1970. I thought up a great title By Reason of Insanity—but the book was never published, and for good reason. It was far too long, for one thing—1300 pages—and even pared down to 650, it still didn’t sell.

I have no doubt that part of the reason it didn’t sell had to do with it being my first ever attempt. I’m sure it wasn’t nearly ready for prime time, so I put that one in the bottom of a drawer and left it there.

More than twenty years later, at an event in Pinetop, Arizona, I met the daughter of one of that real serial killer’s victims. And although her father’s murderer was then and still is incarcerated in the Arizona penal system, that woman—a second generation victim—is still suffering. What I felt in that moment was incredible gratitude that that original book had never been published, because the families and friends of homicide victims never get over the senseless loss of their loved one.

Now jump forward another twenty-plus years. I was sitting here minding my own business thinking about the bad guy I’d just encountered in my head, when I remembered that long ago and long abandoned title—By Reason of Insanity.

Turns out it’s a perfect fit. So all you Joanna Brady fans out there, Joanna # 20 is coming. The baby has a name—By Reason of Insanity.

I’m currently 3000 words to the good. Only 93,000 to go, but who’s counting? And my period of postpartum depression is now officially over.