Today, I'm at the Seattle Mystery Bookshop signing my debut American novel, Angel With A Bullet. But the real story begins 22 years ago with the death of an electrician whom I never met.
I was working as a journalist on the Dead Body Beat of a local tabloid when a friend announced that her father had been killed on the job in a mine by picking up the wrong wire. The wire sent a lightning bolt through his body, killing him instantly. He was only in his forties.
Although I had never met him, the thought of dying at such a young age flipped a switch inside me that said I needed to write my first novel before work, family, life took away the fantasy of actually writing that book. So many people say "one day", but this was my wake-up call to make today my "one day."
So, with my new bride's support, I took a one-year leave of absence from journalism and went home to my electric typewriter and a mind full of ideas. Writing a novel is very different from "beginning" a novel. Everybody can begin a story, but it takes a writer to finish it. I wanted to be a writer.
One year later, I finished the second or third or fourth draft and shipped the novel off to publishers and agents. While I waited for the offers to pour in, I headed back to journalism as I had bills to pay. Those offers never did come pouring in, but the novel was a seed and that seed grew in my mind, inspiring me to write that second book, and that third book and that fifth book, SWITCH, which became my first published book (U.K., Germany, Taiwan, Canada, Russia). My seventh book, No Cry For Help, became my second published book (U.K. and Germany). And then I decided to rewrite that very first book from 22 years ago. Having improved as a writer over the last two decades, that book became Angel With A Bullet and it sold to Midnight Ink a short few weeks after I sent it to my agent. Angel With A Bullet also became my first novel published in the U.S., but it certainly won't be my last.
I have just finished the sequel, Devil With A Gun, so look for the next Dixie adventure in 2013.