|I have eight books published, and they are all standalone thrillers. By standalone, I mean none of my books is part of a series (though The New Neighbor and The Dead Husband have very direct ties to one another.) In case you haven’t noticed, series are VERY popular, and once in a while I’ll get asked why I don’t write them. So, a few reasons…|
1. Writing a series is a difficult pitch for a publisher. You pretty much need to have the series already written, or have an idea for a series that really astounds your publisher. Because a publisher is taking a risk just buying one book, and they have no idea how it’s going to sell. If your book about a sassy Scandinavian philatelist who solves murders on the side ends up being a flop, your publisher doesn’t want to be on the hook to release three more books with that same character.
2. I love to world build. Every time I start pondering a new book, I get excited thinking about new characters and new locations. I consider my books to very fairly off-template, not fitting into the typical thriller molds, and creating unique worlds and characters with each novel is truly one of the things I love most about writing. Sure, I get it, you can have very different styles of books within a series, but that tends to confound readers’ expectations.
3. I don’t tend to have characters that are series-centric. Most series center on a highly skilled character whose profession lends itself to continued adventures (cop, lawyer, hit man, rogue agent, philatelist, what have you). I’m interested in smaller, more singular stories about someone facing extreme adversity, and not having the skill sets at all to deal with it.
4. I don’t outline. I rarely know what’s going to happen in, say, the next four chapters. How the hell am I going to pitch a four-book series?
But most of all…
5. I want to kill off any character at any time. I have a book in which a major character dies about halfway through. When I killed them, it wasn’t my plan. I started writing that day and the thought just hit me…what if this person just died, like, right now? So that character met an untimely end and the book was better because of it. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about having to miraculously resurrect them because the publisher was expecting them to be a central figure in the next book.
Don’t get me wrong, I think book series are great and I’m not saying I’d never write one. I just haven’t landed on an idea that excites me enough to commit years of writing to it. Writing is fucking hard work, and really, it all comes down to joy at the end. How do you find your joy as a writer? For me, it’s through winging it and killing off characters on a whim. And I suppose that’s all that matters.
A wall of standalones.
|“Readers of The New Neighbor are signing up for a ride on a frenetic and terrifying rollercoaster: it’s a top notch domestic thriller.” ―Criminal Element|
|Making It Up|
Newly added episodes of my conversation series Making It Up are out!
This month I chatted with historical-mystery writer Jess Montgomery (The Echoes), thriller author Elle Marr (The Strangers We Know), and 15-year-old newspaper founder Hilde Kate Lysiak.
All episodes are available on my YouTube channel and wherever you get your favorite podcasts. Check them out now here!
|Making It Up clip of the week!|
Elle Marr and I discuss deadlines and the incessant demand for content.
|September 8-11, 2022|
Make sure to check my calendar for the more up-to-date information. Also, if you’re interested in having me speak at your event or book club, please reach out to my PR team.
|What I’m Reading|
Never Coming Home, Hannah Mary McKinnon (MIRA, May 2022)
I recently interviewed Hannah for Making It Up and she was fantastic! After our conversation, I plowed through her latest thriller and it was every bit as entertaining a read as she was a guest. Here’s the blurb I wrote about this wonderful book:
“Brilliant! Hannah Mary McKinnon’s NEVER COMING HOME induces waves of anxiety in the best possible way. Have you ever wanted to murder your spouse? Lucas Forrester will show you how, outlining every meticulously crafted step. But even the best-laid plans contain vulnerabilities, and we feel every second of Lucas’s heart-pounding stress as his crime—and his world—begins to unravel. McKinnon is masterful in capturing Lucas’s voice, balancing humor and horror on a razor’s edge, forcing him to be sympathetic and despicable at the same time. Do not miss this one—add NEVER COMING HOME to your reading list now to find out how much work ‘till death do us part’ really entails.”
|What I’m Watching|
The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent (Lionsgate, 2022). Are you a Nicolas Cage fan? If not, you should question your very existence. If you are and haven’t yet seen The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, then stop everything you’re doing and watch it this very moment.
Cage is known for his quirkiness, and it doesn’t get quirkier than this. In the movie Cage plays, well, himself. Literally himself. An aging actor who’s had a string of flops and is looking to reinvent his career. When he accepts a job to appear at a birthday party in Spain, little does he realize the wealthy client (and, obviously, massive Nic Cage fan) has some very serious ties to the criminal underworld. So this very meta Nicolas Cage movie then turns into a…Nicolas Cage movie!
Funny as hell, beautifully ironic, and peppered with some surprisingly touching moments, this film with surely rank in many critics’ best-of lists for the year.
|Photo of the Month|
Okay, this is self-serving, but hey… Guess who has two thumbs and won the Colorado Book Award? THIS GUY! Yup, The Dead Husband took home the prize in the Thriller category.
This is me trying to figure out what the hell to say after my name was read. I know it’s lame to say I wasn’t expecting to win, but I REALLY didn’t, and I had ZERO SPEECH prepared. I was this close to reciting my margarita recipe.
|Update from My Kids|
Went for a lovely hike with my daughter in Boulder. And by lovely, I mean exhausting. But it was fantastic companionship and a sublime view from the top!
|Update from My Cat|
Those death-makers are WAYYYY too close to my crotch.
|Humor of the Month, sent to me by a friend|
|Book-Love Instagram Post of the Month|
|It’s weird/awesome when someone quotes my work on social media. Thank you @dwinwonderland!|
|That’s it for now – until next month!|