It was World Book Day in the UK, and Hannah, age 9, from Manchester, England, dressed up as The Headless Bride–and her amazing costume won First Place! Her mum kindly shared this photo –so elegantly macabre. Thank you… I love it! I am so honored.
(The Headless Bride was the second of my three “Ghost in the Dollhouse” books published by Scholastic in 1997– a trio that later became part of Sweet Miss Honeywell’s Revenge, published by Harcourt in 2004…)
Check out the fabulous photo …
Oh my goodness, this has been a LONG journey! Finally, finally, finally MURDER AT HEATHERSTONE HALL is available to you, my patient readers. Thank you for sticking with me as this book–the long-awaited sequel so many of you have written to me asking for–made its bumpy journey into print. This is the novel that sprang from my imagination–encouraged by the fans who wrote to me, asking for another Juliana mystery–and was bought by Harcourt but fell victim, as so many books in production did, to the publishing merger with Houghton Mifflin. My book fell by the wayside until my literary agent got me the rights back… and I decided to make it available both as a print book and an ebook. The ebook is coming soon, but the print edition is ready and waiting for you NOW. I hope very much you buy it, give it as gifts to your mystery-loving friends, and enjoy the story. Thank you all for your support! I’m excited to hear back from you after you’ve read the mystery.
ORDER HERE! Murder at Heatherstone Hall
There’s always a crazy sense of anticipation and angst right before a new book comes out… But here’s ‘proof’ that my new murder mystery is nearly ready to makes its debut: The bound proof! Going over it carefully is my work this week…getting it ready for YOU!
Continuing on with my list-making!
Here are Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know about PAPERQUAKE:
1. I read an article about triplets who were born on different dates. The first was born prematurely, and the other two stayed in the womb another month or more. That a kid could be part of a triplet set yet still feel ‘other’ interested me and sparked the creation of Violet, Jasmine and Rose Jackstone.
2. I always wished I were a twin or triplet. Or a quadruplet!
3. Violet and her sisters were 12 years old in my first draft of the book, then 17 in another draft and heading off to college . . . then finally 14 in the finished novel.
4. There was once a subplot about how Violet helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity, one of my favorite charities…
5. Violet is named after my mother-in-law.
6. PAPERQUAKE took ages to write. I painted myself into a corner by making so many mysterious things happen–without having any idea where they were leading! This is the book that taught me the wisdom of making an outline and figuring out an ending for the story before starting to write it. Helps with keeping sane…
7. I didn’t want to move to California because of my fear of earthquakes. And then not long after we arrived, the 1989 Loma Prieta quake struck–registering 7.1 on the Richter Scale. VERY SCARY INDEED! At first I was relieved, thinking we’d survived ‘The Big One,’ but we later learned that was NOT the Big One. So… we wait, I guess.
8. My first visit to the earthquake ‘shake table’ exhibit at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco was on a field trip with my son’s class. I found it so intriguing, I knew I must set a scene of my book in that museum.
9. My own personal favorite scene in PAPERQUAKE is when Violet claims the attic for her bedroom and convinces her parents that she should have it.
10. Abby Chandler from PALE PHOENIX makes another guest appearance in PAPERQUAKE. Did you find her??
On this rainy, windy night, with my pot of (decaf) tea at my side, it feels like a good time to write my next list! This time:
TEN Things You Probably Don’t Know About DREADFUL SORRY
1. It was actually kind of strange: I sat down at my computer fully intending to write one book (had lots of notes and summaries and an outline, even), but found myself somehow telling the story of a girl named Clementine who came to an untimely end at sea… It seemed to be a story that wanted to be told–though I had not planned it at all.
2. But it wasn’t a long enough story to be a novel… so I had to come up with a larger story to frame it. That’s how I invented Molly to be the girl in the present day who is connected mysteriously to Clementine who lived long before Molly was born…
3. Battleboro Heights, OH is loosely modeled on Brecksville, OH where I went to high school.
4. The house in Maine is one that came to me many times in a recurring dream that started when I was a child and lasted until I was in college. I can still see the big white house perfectly, perched on a headland high above the sea, with laundry pegged to a clothesline outside, flapping in the salty breeze…
5. Molly’s recurring dream was inspired by (but not exactly like) my own recurring nightmare…
6. I was hypnotized by a college boyfriend into remembering why I had the dream . . . and it never came to me again! He used the techniques that Paulette uses to hypnotize Molly . . . I was quite surprised (still am to this day) that IT WORKED.
7. I piled so many children (names all starting with A) into Abner’s family because I always wanted a big family…
8. There was interest in a movie option for DREADFUL SORRY some years back… but nothing ever came of it. Alas!
9.The working title of this book was LABYRINTH for quite a long time because I visited an art installation soon after I started writing it. I learned about Mazes and Labyrinths, and the difference between them. The maze you can be lost in; there are wrong turns. The labyrinth might seem to be a maze, but there are actually no wrong turns; you will always arrive at the center no matter how circuitous the path.
10. Abby Chandler from PALE PHOENIX makes another guest appearance! (Did you spot her?)
So, continuing my lists of things people may not know about my earlier books, here’s another!
10 Things You Don’t Know about THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE:
1.THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE was actually the third book I wrote, even though it was published as my second…
2. The main character, Beth, also shows up in PAPERQUAKE as Violet’s best friend!
3. Abby Chandler (from PALE PHOENIX) is mentioned in THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE… (It’s sort of like ‘Where’s Waldo?’ Can you find her?!)
4. The layout of the house on Spring Street is modeled on the house my grandparents owned in Drexel Hill, PA., where I spent happy weeks every summer while growing up.
5. Beth’s talent for making stained glass windows was inspired by my mom’s. My mom has made incredible windows, and she taught me how to make a small one myself so I would understand how to describe Beth’s artwork and process.
(Here’s the window I made!)
6. Monica’s candy store next to the Waverley Theater is modeled on Dietz’s, a popular Drexel Hill candy shop from my mom’s childhood that sold every kind of sweet in big barrels and bins. Kids would load up with candy from Dietz’s and then go to a movie at the Waverley!
7. My college boyfriend begged me to put him in one of my books as a character. I jokingly told him if I were to do that, I might have to kill him off–but he said he didn’t mind! So… that’s how Clifton got his name.
8. The hardcover art always bothered me because of the mysterious
woman in the long dress standing at the top of the stairs. I still don’t know who that is supposed to be!
9. I learned how to choreograph my first ‘crowd scene’ by writing and rewriting the scene when Beth’s family and their friends are all in the living room at the dinner party and Aunt Iris makes a drunken scene. Hard to keep track of everybody!
10. Mills College, where I am a Professor of English, gets a guest-mention in THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE because Beth’s mom, Hannah, has been accepted to be a student there. Mills also gets a nod in THE STRANGE CASE OF BABY H.
NEXT: 10 Things You Might Not Know About DREADFUL SORRY
1. I started this book soon after I finished writing TIME WINDOWS because I knew Miranda and Dan and their families so well, they felt real… and I didn’t want to leave them! The first draft was a considerably different story, though, with no mention at all of witchcraft. That came in a later revision.
2. I got muddled in the middle of PALE PHOENIX with a bad case of writer’s block and didn’t know how to move forward. My husband suggested I just jump ahead to a scene I knew I wanted to write–which was the scene when Miranda finds Abby with all the old photos –and move on from there. Rather dubious about doing this, I did it anyway… and it worked! I wrote the book from there all the way to the end, and then went back to the beginning and wrote up to the middle. Many revisions later, the story read smoothly. Jumping ahead taught me that stories need not always be written in a linear fashion.
3. The Sassy Café is named for my oldest childhood friend, and the book is dedicated to her, too.
4. I had not read TUCK EVERLASTING by Natalie Babbitt, but discovered it when a review of PALE PHOENIX pointed out the similar theme, albeit handled differently. Do read Babbitt’s story if you haven’t; it’s lovely. One of my favorites!
5. Dorothy, the child from TIME WINDOWS, makes a guest appearance in PALE PHOENIX as Susannah’s great-grandmother.
6. The dollhouse from the attic of TIME WINDOWS also makes a guest appearance–now in a corner of Miranda’s bedroom…
7. The principal of Miranda’s high school is named for a boyfriend I had in college…
And all the Puritan townspeople are named for my own family members.
8. The nature of Abby Chandler’s problem has allowed her to show up in several of my other books. It’s been fun for me when readers spot her and write to me: “Hey, did you know that Abby from PALE PHOENIX is the same one in DREADFUL SORRY (or THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE, etc.)?” Have YOU had any Abby-sightings?
9. Right after PALE PHOENIX was accepted by Harcourt, we were asked by our veterinarian friend to take in a dog who was in need of a good home… a skinny, pale-haired pooch named . . . yes!. . . ABBY. It seemed like a sign we should bring her into our family, and so we did. What a wonderful dog she was…
10. I set PALE PHOENIX in the dead of an extremely cold winter because I was stuck in a hot, humid New Jersey summer–record heat waves–without air-conditioning. I wanted my imagination to cool me down and, surprisingly, it worked (at least as long as I was immersed in writing)!
COMING NEXT: Ten things you probably don’t know about THE GLASS HOUSE PEOPLE.
So here, as promised, are ten things not very many people know about TIME WINDOWS:
1. I told the first version of what later became TIME WINDOWS to my boyfriend (who later became my husband) on a cross-country road trip right after college. The car radio got poor reception as we headed for the Badlands, so I started telling him a story to pass the time!
2. I wrote the first draft while I was a student in Bonn, Germany… age twenty-three. I lived in an old, drafty rooming house where I huddled next to my electric heater, wrapped in blankets… and wrote to entertain myself whenever I needed a break from studying German novels, and because I’d run out of things to read in English… (and this was before the Internet, so I couldn’t just order new reading matter online!). I still have that hand-written first draft.
3. The story first started in New York City… not Massachusetts.
4. Some readers have written to me saying they’ve looked for Garnet, MA on a map, or even tried driving to it… planning to visit. Sorry–it’s a fictional town!
5. Miranda calls her mom ‘Mither’ because that’s what my brother and I call our mom…
6. TIME WINDOWS was rejected six times before being bought by Harcourt…. Most most of those rejections said the story was too frightening and violent for children.
7. There have been three different covers. I like the first one best because the artist, Stephen Marchesi, captured Miranda the way I picture her. The other two covers well drawn, but are inconsistent with the story; one shows her on the wrong side of the dollhouse–and the dollhouse itself a brightly painted Victorian building intend of the white new england farmhouse I describe. Another shows a large face looking in at little furnishings; in my story there are no furnishings. The dollhouse is empty.
8. Once Dan Hooton had two brothers instead of just Buddy. My agent felt that one of the brothers was extraneous and asked me to cut him! I gave his lines to the other boys, and . . . he vanished. That I can’t recall his name offhand must mean she was right!
9. The newspaper article about the mummified body found in the secret room was inspired by a real article from my husband’s hometown in England about a baby’s body discovered in an airtight old cedar chest..
10. Backyard Productions twice bought the rights to the film option for TIME WINDOWS. Stephen Spielberg apparently turned it down! Other backers were sought… but no film has ever materialized. Still, I haven’t lost hope that someday….
NEXT: Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know about PALE PHOENIX!
Hello, dear readers!
I’ve been posting things on my Facebook Author Page, on Twitter, and on Goodreads, but a lot of my very favorite fans don’t head to those places but come right here–to my author website–and so I want to write to YOU here. And hear back from you!
To start, let me say that… Yes! A couple new books are in the works. The first one coming out very soon is called MURDER AT HEATHERSTONE HALL, and it’s the long-awaited sequel to BLACKTHORN WINTER. So if you haven’t read Blackthorn Winter yet, this would be a good time to read it… and then you’ll be ready when the new book comes out! Another manuscript I’m revising is one I know a lot of you have been hoping for, and that’s a new Miranda novel. Yes! The same Miranda you first met in TIME WINDOWS when she was thirteen, and followed again in PALE PHOENIX when she was fifteen! Now, in SUDDEN LIGHT, she is seventeen . . . and oh, my goodness, she’s in a lot of trouble. But I can’t tell you more about this book until I finish the revisions. Stay tuned!
You’ve sent me some lovely letters, and many of you ask where I got my ideas for my various novels, and which (if any) are ‘true’ stories… and so I thought I’d do a sort of countdown to MURDER AT HEATHERSTONE HALL’s debut by telling you a little about each of the previous books. Not just blurbs you can read on the back covers or online, but tidbits of info that nobody knows!
The first one will be:
Ten Things You Probably Don’t Know About Time Windows
Check it out! And thanks for visiting my website. I hope you will come back often.