My first novel, Wide Open, will be published by Tor in March, 2012.
What it’s about:
Hallie Michaels has had a near-death experience in Afghanistan and since then she’s been able to see ghosts. She’s still adjusting to this new reality when she’s called home to South Dakota to her sister, Dell’s, funeral. Her friends and the sheriff tell her that Dell committed suicide, but Hallie can’t believe that. It doesn’t make any sense. Trailed by her sister’s ghost, she starts asking questions–of her sister’s friends, of the people Dell worked with, of a young deputy sheriff who keeps turning up where he’s most not wanted.
Hallie soon discovers there’s a lot more going on than just her sister’s death. Things someone will do anything to protect. Hallie’s threatened. Her father’s barn is burned. Another young woman disappears. New ghosts follow her. Now, she’s going to need all the help she can muster in order to stop a villain with ancient powerful magic at his fingertips.
Where it comes from:
It’s been a long journey to a published novel and I’m really excited that Wide Open will soon be in stores.
The phrase, write what you know, is a common bit of advice for writers, and a good one. We talk a lot about what it means, exactly, because writers are always writing about things we can’t possibly ‘know.’ We write about places that don’t exist, about people who never were, about pasts and futures that didn’t or won’t happen. But at least part of what it means is to write what you care about.
I grew up on a farm in western New York State. I went to college and I majored in Animal Science. I went to graduate school and majored in Plant Science. I researched forages. I worked for an ag chemical company. I was a statistical consultant for ag researchers. I moved into information technology, but I worked at a land grant university.
I moved west of the Mississippi, not because I wanted to, but because the job was there. People–Iowans–asked me why I moved there, like they couldn’t imagine it, like no one ever did. But here’s the thing, about Iowa and Nebraska, South Dakota and the rest of the short and tall grass prairie states. They’re beautiful. Really fantastically beautiful–hot and humid in summer, dry and cold (COLD!) in winter, vast and open and full of surprises.
I care about the prairie, about the big open. I care about the lives people live out of sight of interstates and cities and suburban subdivisions. And I care about the vast wonderful what-if possibilities of fantasy.
Wide Open comes from all of that. And I hope it manages to do some of it justice.