It’s Alive!

You ever have one of those Dr. Frankenstein moments? Maybe even a Young Frankenstein moment?

You know, when you pinch yourself because you just can’t believe that you and Igor have actually succeeded?

Well, it happened to me on Friday. The ARCS (advanced reading copies or galleys) of Nox Dormienda arrived. Did I think of a snappy, noirish line from one of my favorite movies? Did I raise an eyebrow like Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity, or sing “Put the Blame on Mame”?


Two lines occurred to me … the aforementioned “It’s Alive!” as uttered by the imitable Colin Clive, and those immortal words of Teri Hatcher’s, when she guested on Seinfeld:

They’re real–and they’re fabulous.

So now Mondays are the new Sundays, as we assemble press kits, reviewer addresses, and requests from relatives into mass mailings of what looks like a book with my name on it … nah, couldn’t be. This isn’t real … is it?

It’s a landmark along the road, another reason to celebrate. Your book is real, like parenthood, when you hold the responsibility for it in your hands. Even an advanced reading copy. And it’s necessary to celebrate, as I’m reminded when I read the wonderful Write Free newsletter, which should be a must read for everyone who writes or wants to write, or really, anyone who is trying to fit creativity into her life.

Check it out, give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Something else I’m reading? Well, I just finished an advanced reading edition of another author, Jordan Dane. Jordan is going to be everywhere very soon — her first book, No One Heard Her Scream, pubs in March — so I’d suggest ordering now before they sell out, and don’t forget you heard it here first.

She’s got three books pubbing back to back this spring, all in the romantic suspense genre, but really–they cross over into thriller, mystery, police procedural categories. Vivid characterization, intense suspense, creepy and all-too believable villainy … you owe it to yourself to check these out! The next two coming up are No One Left to Tell and No One Lives Forever.

Another fine author (who also happens to be a real heroine — an emergency-room pediatrician) is CJ Lyons, who is launching Lifelines in March. I’ve read a sneak preview of the first chapter, and if you like medical thrillers and shows like ER and Grey’s Anatomy … well, you’re in for a treat. I’ll be picking up my copy at Left Coast Crime.

CJ, Jordan and I — and my guest blogger, whom I’ll be discussing in a minute — are all members of the Thrill Begins, the International Thriller Writers Debut Authors Group. We’ve all been on this journey together. So my enthusiasm is doubled–first, because the books are tremendous, and secondly, because we’re part of the same class, so to speak. That’s a terrific feeling, and a relatively new one in publishing circles, spearheaded by the Killer Year group of authors. KY, incidentally, has a killer anthology out … another recommendation.

Now, what about that guest blogger? Well, I’ll be posting for Declan Burke’s Crime Always Pays when we get to Denver. And fellow debut author and historical noir writer Rebecca Cantrell will be stepping over here, to Writing in the Dark, to share her observations about all kinds of things … including how to write noir in sunny Hawaii, where she lives, and how to channel early ’30s Berlin when you’re sipping mai tais in 90 degree weather. Becky’s book, Even Smoke Leaves a Trace, will be debuting in 2009, and I’m already in line for an ARC … it’s haunting and elegiac, the kind of poetry that noir inspires in the best of writers … and she is one of the best.

Speaking of noir … I saw Ida Lupino’s favorite film the other day. Ladies in Retirement (1941), another example of period-setting noir. The environment is a lonely house on some rugged, decayed looking English moor, circa the 1880s. Ida co-stars with her husband at the time, Louis Hayward, noir stalwart Evelyn Keyes, Elsa Lanchester, and a great supporting cast.

Charles Vidor (Gilda) directed; the story is based on a stage play popular the year before. Essentially, Ida plays a woman willing to do anything — emphasis on the anything — to keep her barmy sisters happy and out of the insane asylum.

It’s a marvelous film, owing something to Night Must Fall, but Vidor’s angles, the starkly contrasting cinematography, and the cat-and-mouse game Ida plays with Hayward’s character make it, in my opinion, even better. Lupino was one of the greatest actresses of the golden age … and never nominated for one of those glittery and sexless statuettes they call an Oscar.

Unfortunately, Ladies in Retirement isn’t on DVD or VHS … I caught it on TCM. Watch your listings, which is almost as good a sign-off as “That’s the way it is.”

See you next week, with my last post before Denver and Left Coast Crime!