Deborah lives in North Texas with her husband, German shepherds, and cats, and divides her time between Texas and Great Britain. Her latest novel, NO MARK UPON HER will be published by William Morrow February 7, 2012. She is currently working on her fifteenth Kincaid/James novel.
NO MARK UPON HER
"Metropolitan Police officer and Olympic rowing hopeful DCI Rebecca Meredith goes out alone to train on the river in beautiful, historic Henley on a dark afternoon in late October - and doesn't return. When a desperate search by the police and a K9 team reveals the possibility of foul play, Scotland Yard calls in Detective Superintendent Duncan Kincaid.
Then, when a search-and-rescue team member's life is threatened, Kincaid realizes the case may be even more complex and dangerous than he believed. But it is only when he enlists the aid of his partner, Detective Inspector Gemma James, that they find the answers lie closer to home than they could have imagined - and are infinitely more deadly."
IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY...
by Deborah Crombie
I meant to write about the gorgeous town of Henley-on-Thames, where my new book, NO MARK UPON HER, is set. And about rowing, and canine search and rescue, and the fascinating things I learned and did that went into this story. But I'm sure I'll write and talk about all of those things in other places, and since Kaye has very kindly given me the opportunity to meander and muse, I'm going to do just that.
The beginning of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band has been running relentlessly through my head the last couple of weeks. NO MARK UPON HER comes out on February 7th, so I've been more than an little caught up in all the stuff you do to promote a new book and getting ready to go on a book tour, as well as working really hard on the book-in-progress.
Then all of a sudden the little wheels went clickety-click in my brain and I realized that it was the second week in February, in 1992, when I got the call from my (newly acquired) literary agent telling me that my first novel, A SHARE IN DEATH, had sold to a major publisher. And not only my first novel, but the unfinished second novel, and the only-contemplated third novel. A three-book contract. With Scribner's. As in Charles Scribner's Sons.
There was dead silence on my end of the line. The seconds stretched, and stretched, and finally my agent said, "Did you understand what I just said?" I said yes, I thought I did, and hung up.
Someone asked me in an interview recently how I felt when I knew I'd sold my first book. Stunned, I had to answer. Just stunned. And terrified. Something that had been a daydream, a "do just to see if you can" endeavor, had become suddenly, unimaginably real.
(Are you listening here, Kaye? :-))
I'd had a fun idea: Write books set in the UK so I'd have an excuse to go back often and visit cool places. I'd had a mission of sorts: Assuming I could actually sell a series (never mind one book,) I wanted to write about characters who weren't static, who grew and changed and had relationships and became better or worse for it.
But I had no idea if I could actually do it. I felt like such a fraud. A) I had no experience that remotely resembled that of the Scotland Yard police officers I was writing about. B) I wasn't British. And a very big C) I wasn't a REAL writer. I'd never even published a short story.
Fast forward almost exactly twenty years. Yikes. Makes me dizzy to even contemplate.
I'm now with my third publisher in the US, Harper Collins, and very, very happy there.
My agent and I have been together longer (and possibly more happily) than many marriages.
I've written fourteen novels and am working on the fifteenth.
Now that is not a great track record for productivity, I am the first to admit. I know many writers whom I admire greatly who write two books a year. I haven't averaged one a year, and some gaps have been longer than others. I've spent a good part of that twenty years castigating myself because I don't write faster, trying to find the perfect formula, the magic bullet, that will speed the process up.
And then, suddenly, around the first of this year, as the pub date for NO MARK drew nearer, it hit me that I have written FOURTEEN novels.
Now, I know that sounds daft, and I don't mean it in the literal I-suddenly-learned-to-count way. Nor is it that fourteen is a magic number or such a great volume of work--I have friends who have written FIFTY novels.
I've written fourteen books that I still like (especially NO MARK UPON HER!) and I'm absolutely loving the book-in-progress.
My life has been measured in the rhythm of books--books finished and not finished, books researched, book tours. I've marked personal changes and upheaveals by which book I was writing when things happened. (Oh, we moved in the middle of Leave the Grave Green. My dad passed away a week after I turned in the manuscript of In a Dark House... And so on.)
My characters and their lives have grown and evolved in ways that I could never have begun to imagine twenty years ago.
Every book is like a surprise party. I don't mean that I don't plot, because I do, sometimes past the point of all common sense. But it's the things that happen in the spaces between the plans that never cease to amaze me, and the way that the characters and the stories come to life as the words go down on the page that has brought me unforeseen delight.
Not to worry. I don't mean that I've given up trying to figure out how to write faster. I suspect that is the Holy Grail of my journey.
Or that writing has ever gotten any easier, or that I've ever reached a point where I felt like I could wear the badge that says REAL WRITER. But maybe I've had an inkling that there's a Velveteen Rabbitishness to this writing business--the more you do it, the more real you get.
And that maybe it doesn't even matter, because the joy is in the doing itself.
Deborah Crombie, firstname.lastname@example.org
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