I’m so excited about this and it’s finally real! This week, I e-signed the contract – and my new publisher did too. And so it is official: Both my THE BLUE BUTTERFLY and THE BAD BOY BEAT will be published by Severn House, which is now the genre imprint of UK giant Cannongate Publishers. In fact, I’ll be reunited with my old editor, Rachel Simpson, who had left Severn before the merger – and has now returned as the acting editorial director of the imprint!
A little bit more: I wrote The Blue Butterfly in a rush. It’s not a typical mystery, but rather a he said/she said about a toxic relationship between a beautiful artist and the striving doctor who adores her. But as these things go it deals with such issues as the sexualization/fetishization of female artists, the outdated gender expectations shared by both men and women, and some other nasty (and sometimes sexy) stuff and it ends in a very bloody fashion. Needless to say, I love it. I used this manuscript to shop for a new agent – and I knew Anne-Lise Spitzer was the right one when she responded with “I can’t believe you killed [name redacted]!” in one of her first emails. Not, “Well, the market right now…” or “Your profile supports…” or anything. She responded like a reader, and I loved her for that.
But when Butterfly failed to sell on its first round out, I began to give up. It was too weird. Not a typical whodunit. A heroine who is relatable (to me, at least) but not “likable.” Besides, by then I had started to write a fun, fast, but much more straightforward amateur sleuth, featuring a newspaper reporter on the police beat whose own shady history and taste for “bad boys” is both an asset and a possible hindrance on the job.
I had such fun with this one!
In fact, I was pushing Anne-Lise to abandon Blue Butterfly and just sell the more commercial Bad Boy Beat, when she explained that her goal was to find an editor who would take them both. Who would get me as a writer, and with whom I could have a long relationship. Months went by … but then she ran into Rachel at the London Book Fair and they started chatting – and on July 28 (the day after my birthday!), she told me we’d had an offer! And that Severn sees Bad Boy as the start on a new series (my dream as well). We even have temp pub dates, with The Bad Boy Beat scheduled for May 2024 and The Blue Butterfly tentatively on the calendar for November 2024, depending on whether this will conflict with any next Polis book. Because, yes, there may be more magical witch cats in my future! If my editor at Polis agrees, I’ll keep doing those. His tardiness drives me crazy, but I love my magical cats. (And, yes, the newest – TO CONJURE A KILLER, which has been bumped back to November – is now up for pre-order. Pre-orders are one of the factors that convince publishers to continue series, so if you like cat cozies, please consider!)