Okay, so I’m thrilled to have FLAMINGO ROAD coming out on April 18, especially as it’s my first novel with a “Big Five” New York publisher. But the thing about being a writer is you always have to think ahead, look to the future, and sometimes . . . worry.
I love my new series about Fia McKee, an agent for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. When I finish with the second in this series, I can hardly wait to race into the third, but hold that horse. There is no St. Martins contract for a third, the publisher owns "Fia,” and my agent can’t sell something we don’t own.
Yet St. Martins is wonderful. I enjoy a terrific lunch in New York with my editor, publicist, and marketing gal, and I love all the people I’m working with. The art department puts a fabulous cover on FLAMINGO ROAD, and Kirkus gives the book a stellar review.
Then Publishers Weekly drops a tepid review and fear creeps in. What if the novel doesn’t sell? But I can’t wallow in that swamp, so with a mental whiplash, I write and self-publish a new Nikki Latrelle novella, and make some cash. Still worried, I start a just-in-case novel about an American Irish Traveler in South Carolina.
We have a lot of Travelers down here and they are a fascinating culture of flamboyant scam artists. They're an extremely insular society whose children rarely stay in school past the eighth grade. Many youngsters are bound by signed marriage contracts, and some girls marry as early as eleven. Since the nation’s largest group of Travelers lives in Murphy Village, about 40 minutes from my home in Aiken, I drive to their compound and take a look around. Large McMansions being built with money from their cash-only endeavors of driveway paving, tree trimming, house painting and other odd jobs.
The Traveler men drive out of state, and are famous for charging a lower price for your driveway because they “happen” to have a load of tar from another job. They lay down a new driveway, take your money and are gone. Since the only paper ID you saw was false, along with fake MVA tags, good luck getting a refund when your substandard driveway crumbles and cracks a month later. What a fabulous background these people will make for a murder mystery!
So I begin, and while plugging away on this novel, I realize again that a writer’s life is an amazing journey. I believe most of us write because it is something we love to do. It’s an incredible way to earn an income, except it’s scary as heck. Will the novel sell to a publisher? If it does, will the general population read the book? Will the comments from trade reviewers like Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal be favorable enough to spur the library market? It’s truly a wait and see game—wild as a roller coaster ride, as unpredictable as the stock market.
Just when uncertainty drains my forward momentum, a letter arrives from a reader telling me my book helped them get through a rough patch in their life. Wow, that’s exactly what Robert Parker and Dick Francis did for me. This letter is a terrific shot in the arm, so I bet on myself, climb back into that roller coaster car, and pray for a soft landing.
Learn more about Sasscer and her books at SasscerHill.com.
SASSCER HILL was an amateur steeplechase jockey, as well as a horse owner who bred, raised, and rode race horses for thirty years in Maryland. Her first published novel, Full Mortality, was nominated for both the Agatha and Macavity Best First Mystery Awards. Born in Washington, D.C., Hill earned a BA in English Literature from Franklin and Marshall College. She now lives with her husband, dog, and cat, in Aiken, SC., where she still enjoys horseback riding.