February 15th, 2020

“Genius is 1 Percent Inspiration and 99 Percent Perspiration.”
– Thomas Edison

I am sending my newsletter late this Saturday, but I have an excuse: I have been working on a new novel. I know you are saying: The Ancestor isn’t even published yet and you’re already at it again? I have to confess that this is the case, and that I’m very immersed in this new idea, even though it is really at the very beginning stages.

For any of you who have written a book, you know that the first draft is a very precarious thing. You can have the best idea in the world, you can make an outline, you can do a ton of research, and then when you sit down to write, it can come out in ways you didn’t expect. You have to just write it all the way through and then go back and work on it takes the right shape.

When I was a student at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, one of my teachers said that you have to be very open and forgiving when writing the first draft, and ruthless when you revise. So I am being open to the process now, and then will be unforgiving later, when I have a full draft.

Writing is a lot of work, but it is also my favorite thing to do, and so I feel extraordinarily lucky to be allowed to be at my desk writing every day.

This week was also a time of reflection for me. My father died on the 14th of February 2006, a sad day for my family. Coincidentally, my first book, a memoir about my relationship with my father, came out the same month.

This review on the cover of The New York Times Book Review was published just weeks after my father’s funeral. It was one of those months you never forget, a time when I was terribly sad, and yet elated that my first book was on the cover of the Book Review. The way that I have come to think of it, this review was a tribute to my dad. I wish he could have seen it.

I have had a lot of good fortune in my career, and feel that my good luck is continuing. All four of the pre-publication trade reviews have come in and they are all excellent. Trade reviews (for those of you who aren’t in the book industry) are reviews that come out in magazines aimed at librarians and booksellers and everyone else in the book business. Here are the highlights:

“An opulently romantic horror tale, with a plucky…heroine who discovers she is part of a family whose dark secrets have been sheltered from the world at large. A gothic extravaganza.”

“Trussoni (Angelology) concocts a deliciously creepy tale of a windfall turned nightmare. An intense, darkly gothic narrative with elements of mystery, the paranormal, and legendary tales. This odyssey of monsters and family will enrapture readers.”

“The intermingling of science, legend, and genealogy make for a truly captivating tale of literary horror.”

“The Ancestor will sweep readers up in awe and wonder, asking us to examine our own complicated ancestry… Pair it with Jennifer Egan’s backlist gem, The Keep.”

When you read The Ancestor, you’ll see that it is set in the Aosta Valley of Italy, where there is a strong liquor called Genepy des Alps. It is an herbal liquor that (legend had it) was carried by dogs – notably Saint Bernards — that helps revive those who are suffering from the cold in the Alps. My main character Bert drinks too much of this and some strange things happen to her.

I would like to send you a virtual glass of Genepy to celebrate how good life is, and to a future of inspiration and good work. Thank you for sharing my week.



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