Years ago, when I was a recovering romance writer looking for a new genre, I wrote a proposal for an urban fantasy series that I felt was exactly what I should be writing: A comedy series set in New York City and featuring Esther Diamond, a struggling actress (I was also a recovering aspiring actress) who gets involved in supernatural misadventures via her career.
However, neither urban fantasy nor comedy were popular in the fantasy genre at the time. This meant that selling the series would take persistence. But, alas, I was letting my work be represented by literary agents back then. (See my previous Femmes Fatales blog for a fuller account of why I stopped working with literary agents.) Running true to form, my then-agent sent the proposal to three editors, they all rejected it, and the agent promptly declared the series unsaleable, refused to send it out ever again, and thereafter bit my head off whenever I raised the subject,.
A few years later I fired the agent, and then I sent out Esther Diamond on my own. Within weeks, I got a good multi-book offer for her. (The many reasons I ceased working with literary agents can be summed up as: I need to earn a living, and in my repeated experience, agents impede that.)
Unfortunately, although well-intentioned, the house did a poor job of publishing the first book, it sank like a stone, and they canceled my contract. The agent (my fourth) whom I had hired to "represent" me after I got that book deal on the table had never taken any interest in my career beyond collecting 15% of that deal. And now that I had a career problem, I was clearly as welcome at that agency as, oh, a corpse at a banquet.
After leaving that agency, I (foolishly) queried some other agents. They were all negative about my plan to find a new publisher for Esther Diamond. So I once again researched the market and submitted Esther on my own... And, once again, within a few weeks, I got a good multi-book offer for her.
The editor who took a chance on this canceled series was the inimitable Betsy Wollheim of DAW Books—who won a well-deserved Hugo Award this year as the Best Editor in our genre (science fiction and fantasy). We subsequently signed for more Esther books, DAW has also done a great job of releasing a new edition of the series' AWOL first book, and Esther Diamond is currently scheduled through book #6 in 2013, The Misfortune Cookie—with many more books to come after that, I hope!
In the first book, Disappearing Nightly, Esther is performing in an off-Broadway flop called Sorcerer! when the leading lady really vanishes during the disappearing act. After several more performers around the city mysteriously disappear during their magic acts, Esther joins forces with Dr. Maximillian Zadok, an elderly mage who specializes in unraveling mystical mayhem. She also butts heads with Detective Connor Lopez, a skeptical NYPD cop who finds Esther attractive in green body paint—or anything else.
In Doppelgangster, as New York faces the threat of a mob war, the trio find themselves dealing with double the number of wiseguys there should be. In her next mystical misadventure, Esther experiences the effects of Unsympathetic Magic when she and Max investigate zombies in Harlem, while Lopez tries to trace the owner of a decomposing hand left on 121st Street. And in Vamparazzi, while performing in a sold-out vampire play, Esther discovers that everything Bram Stoker taught us about vampires is wrong...
Deep into writing this series now, after years of trying to get it off the ground, I still feel that this is exactly what I should be writing, so I'm in this for the long haul. And I hope that readers will be, too!
Laura Resnick is the author of the popular Esther Diamond urban fantasy series, including the upcoming Polterheist (November 2012). She has also written traditional fantasy novels such as In Legend Born, The Destroyer Goddess, and The White Dragon, which made multiple "Year's Best" lists. She began her career as the award-winning author of fourteen romance novels, written under the pseudonym Laura Leone. An opinion columnist, frequent public speaker, and the Campbell Award-winning author of many short stories, she is on the Web at LauraResnick.com.