Yes, finally, THE PRICE will be in fine bookstores everywhere on February 19 or 20, depending on… I’m not sure exactly what.
Don’t we love this cover? It is so EXACTLY right for the book it’s – well, spooky. Kudos to Adam Auerbach at St. Martin’s Press!!
I will be starting off my tour in Southern California tomorrow, teaching workshops at the Southern California Writers’ Conference in San Diego this weekend, then signing at the divine Mysterious Galaxy on Tuesday, February 19th at 7 pm, and at legendary Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 20, also 7 pm.
Yes, there will be wine, as we most definitely need to toast the successful conclusion of the writers’ strike.
(Okay, more specifics about the book at the end of this post, but first, the topic of the day…)
So, the second book!
All the interviews have started, and as I’ve said before, there’s nothing like an interview to shock you into remembering why you write to begin with and especially why you wrote a particular book.
I wrote a blog here a few weeks ago about personal mythology and was delighted with all the thoughtful examples of ‘Rati personal myths. I was actually struggling toward a topic of theme that I didn’t quite get to that day, so I will try it from a different angle today.
I really do believe that as authors we only have a few themes that we’re working on, or working out, over and over again, and it’s useful to identify our personal themes, as people and as authors.
Well, one of mine is the deal with the devil.
This is a funny personal theme to have, considering that my parents are two of the most agnostic people I know and we really had no religious upbringing at all. My sister and brother and I were taken around to different churches and temples and mosques and encouraged to go to whatever religious service was happening in whatever family our parents had pawned us off on for the weekend (KIDDING)… but, in essence, not a religious family by a long shot.
Nonetheless, I really seem to have a thing for the devil.
I don’t like the word. "Satan" is much more, well, elegant. But even Satan is too on-the-nose a term for the core concept that intrigues me.
Which is not about temptation, so much, but about what you’re willing to do for what you want.
I honestly have no idea when this obsession started. I was always into vampires as a kid (much more than I am today) so I guess the idea of forbidden passion and the price of unchecked desire loomed large, with big teeth.
I think I was also hit hard early on by Simone de Beauvoir’s famous statement, re: women artists – "The book or the baby." That is, as a female artist you have to choose between the two.
Now, obviously two of my favorite writer/friends, Heather Graham and Allison Brennan, have driven a massive and multi-pronged stake into the heart of THAT little homily, but I didn’t know Heather and Allison in my formative years and I did see an alarming number of the wildly talented women writers and actors and designers I knew in college choose the family route and never find the way back to their artistic dreams and potential, and it disturbed me. More than disturbed me, it ATE at me.
(Things that eat at you tend to turn up in your stories, don’t you find?)
And beyond all that – let’s face it. Those of us with the need to write are pretty ruthless about it. Writers aren’t particularly nice people. We are often kind, and empathetic, and compassionate – but nice? Not so much. We are focused, we are determined, we are obsessive, we are relentless. Some of us hide it better than others, but bottom line is – we have to be all those things, or we would never, never get it done.
And we make choices all the time that seem on the surface to be irrevocable. We give up one thing to get another – all the time. And… getting to the heart of it now: who here hasn’t whispered a little prayer that possibly is not meant for God to hear… about what we would really do for what we want?
So where does the devil come in?
Well, it’s partly just sex, of course – if sex can ever be referred to as JUST sex. If you’re going to sell your soul,or make a bargain that you’re going to spend all of eternity paying off, wouldn’t you rather it be to someone sort of dashing?
But also I’ve always thought that just as God is supposed to, the devil KNOWS you – knows the depths of your soul – knows the things that you want that you would never breathe a word about to another human being.
How intoxicating is that?
In fact, you could argue that the devil knows some things about you that you are going to great pains NOT to let God catch on to. And that’s intoxicating, too.
So that’s the tension that draws me again and again to Satanic characters: the idea of an overwhelmingly erotic and all-knowing figure who knows you to your core – knows you well enough to offer you your most secret desire – at a premium price.
I watched SILENCE OF THE LAMBS again last night (probably my three-dozenth time) because I’m teaching with it this weekend, and you better believe that the deal with the devil is the driving theme and force behind that book and film. A perfect depiction in every way, and not coincidentally, one of my five favorite books AND movies of all time.
Well, THE PRICE is all about the deal with the devil, too. And it won’t be my last book on the subject, either. My Satanic villain in THE PRICE knows exactly what a human being is worth, exactly the pressure points that will make them cave, exactly what every one of us is willing to do, for good or for evil.
And what would I be willing to do?
Hah. Like I said – I’ll never tell a human soul.
But I hope THE PRICE will tease readers into thinking about it.
So several questions for today, and no, you don’t have to answer in writing:
– – What have you given up for what you most want?
– – What WOULD you give up for what you most want, if someone who really had the power were offering?
– – And less drastically (!) – what’ do you feel is one/are some of your recurring writing themes?
On the road, now.
Here’s the scoop about the book, and you can read the first three chapters on my website, too.
What would you give to save your child? Your wife? Your soul?
Idealistic Boston District Attorney Will Sullivan has it all: a beautiful and beloved wife, Joanna; an adorable five-year old daughter, Sydney; and a real shot at winning the Massachusetts governor’s race. But on the eve of Will’s candidacy, Sydney is diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable tumor.
Now Will and Joanna are living in the eerie twilight world of Briarwood Hospital, waiting for Sydney to die, and both going slowly mad with grief.
Then a mysterious, charismatic hospital counselor named Salk takes special interest in Will and Joanna’s plight… and when Sydney miraculously starts to improve, Will suspects that Joanna has made a terrible bargain to save the life of their dying child.
"A medical thriller of the highest order… a stunning, riveting journey into terror and suspense."
– Michael Palmer, bestselling author of THE FIFTH VIAL
"This heartbreakingly eerie page-turner paints a vivid picture of the struggle between reality and the unknown."
– Library Journal
"A psychological roller coaster that keeps the reader on edge with bone-chilling thrills throughout."
– Heather Graham, bestselling author of THE SEANCE
"Beyond stunning, it is harrowing in the real sense of true art."
– Ken Bruen, bestselling author of PRIEST
More tour information is here, and being added to daily.