Now that the holidays are over and I’ve broken all my New Year’s resolutions—why do I bother to make them?—I’m about to publish my next novel. It’s a stand-alone mystery set in Southern California and San Francisco. It’s a book I wrote between the first and second books of my Florida series featuring Detectives Andi Battaglia and Greg Lamont. The book, which I called PSYCHIC DAMAGE, was hard for me to write, and when I finished it, I didn’t like it much.
I didn’t like the protagonist, a whiney, nail-biting woman named Eva Stuart who can’t make decisions on her own, is addicted to going to psychics to get advice on how to live her life, and leaves a really desirable man because she thinks he doesn’t love her as much as she loves him. The story begins with the murder of her favorite psychic.
When I finished writing PSYCHIC DAMAGE, I wondered why I had thought this would make a good story. I wasn’t happy with it, but I did what I had to do. I sent it out to agents, took it to a couple of conferences where I pitched it to agents and publishers, etc., etc., but I got no serious bites. I decided no one else liked my protagonist either.
So I buried the book and went on to write the second book in the Florida mystery series, SO MANY REASONS TO DIE. I liked that one. It didn’t give me any trouble, and I liked Andi Battaglia and Greg Lamont, my characters.
Several people who had read the whole or portions of PSYCHIC DAMAGE asked me what had become of it. I said I didn’t like it, so when I finished it, I put it aside. One person in particular, my writing teacher, kept reminding me of this novel that I had written. She kept telling me it was good. “Go back and read it,” she said. “See what you think now, after a couple of years.”
For a long time I didn’t do what she suggested, didn’t go back and read it. Finally, exasperated and having trouble with the third novel in the Florida series (must I always have trouble with my books? Will nothing ever come easily?) I reread PSYCHIC DAMAGE. And what do you know? It’s not a bad book at all. It’s a good book. I like it. I still don’t like Eva, my protagonist, but she does have a significant character arc in the book. She becomes a better, more self-assured person, no longer relying on psychics and able to stand on her own. She even stops biting her nails!
I hope when PSYCHIC DAMAGE is published, you’ll read it and let me know if you learn to like Eva Stuart while you read the book. I did!
6 thoughts on “A Mystery That Almost Wasn’t”
I guess it goes with the job, but I don’t like it! I’m sure none of us does.
Thanks for sharing this Carol. It’s good to know that other authors have similar doubts!
I enjoy your posts, and frankly, I suspect I would love your books, ESPECIALLY Psychic Damage! I think Eva Stuart sounds real-to-life, and I am so very happy that you went back and re read it and then decided to have it published. You have also led an interesting life, haven’t you? Coast to Coast and Africa as well. Hoping to read your books.
They are pretty scary, especially if you don’t drive them all the time. I do–but I don’t like it.
I grew up in L.A., learned how to drive there, but now I’m afraid to drive on the freeways. If I go down to or through the area, I ask my daughter to drive me. The book sounds fascinating. Never throw anything like that away–I’ve done it, and regretted it.
I’m not a fan of LA freeways either. I take surface streets to my day job instead of the freeway, especially with all of the construction going on. I envy people who can work at home and not drive! Hope you get your book published, Carole. Sometimes a book needs to “age” like fine wine. I didn’t like my current WIP when I started, but now it’s starting to grow on me.
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