For the launch of my third novel, I thought it would be fun to have the story editor, Patrick J. LoBrutto, ask some questions. He’s not only conversant with the novel; he made it better.

Pat, who worked in-house at Bantam and at half a dozen other major imprints, has edited more books than most people read in a lifetime. Over a career spanning three decades, he’s worked with Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Eric Van Lustbader, Walter Tevis, the Louis L’Amour Estate, Don Coldsmith, Jack Dann, F. Paul Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Herbert, and hundreds of others.

Obviously, if any of my answers come across as incoherent, it’s all Pat’s fault.

In a small town it’s normal for everyone to get in your business—for the community to know about the women that run around, the men that abuse, the spoiled kids with their sense of entitlement, and the loners who belong to nobody. Set in Roma, Kentucky, The Next Time You See Me (Touchstone Books) by Holly Godard Jones is a literary thriller that links a variety of perspectives into a complicated web of deceit and lies that replace hope and peace with bittersweet longings for what might have been. But buried in there is a lesson about perseverance, a glimmer of optimism, and the eternal complications that are the duality of man. This is the mirror that Holly Goddard Jones holds up, as we bear witness to these defining moments of destruction, as well as revelation.

Rather than just provide an excerpt of my newly released novel, I thought it would be fun to share some of my intentions by annotating the excerpt. You can read the opening words of the novel in the form of this brief prologue. Below that, the prologue is reproduced with some notations.

Prologue

imagesIn the town of Greenwich, Connecticut, office buildings rarely betray the power of the players inside. Consistent with that principle, a man who privately called himself The Mean had chosen to occupy the second floor of a modest four-story brick building within easy walking distance of both Putnam and Greenwich Avenues. The former was a major thoroughfare, two lanes in either direction. The latter, which locals simply called The Avenue, was a one-way street on a steep hill between Putnam and the railroad tracks. Lined with tony shops and expensive restaurants, it furnished a promenade for people who drove Maybachs and Ferraris, Bentleys and Land Rovers. At two key intersections, traffic cops policed both moving cars and pedestrians, who often received tickets for jaywalking.

A few months after Robert B. Parker died of a heart attack at his writing desk in January of 2010, his publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, approached Ace Atkins with a proposition. Parker’s family wanted Spenser, one of the most iconic private detectives in crime fiction history, to live on; and they were searching for the right writer to continue the series. Would Ace like to audition for the role by sending in 50 sample pages?

This was not an offer to be taken lightly.

Rock of Ages

By Gloria Harrison

Notes

I’m three years old. My parents call me outside one day and point at the sky, from which water is falling onto the hard, dirt-packed floor of the Mojave. I can’t imagine where this water is coming from, but it’s everywhere, making the air smell like wet earth. I’m amazed. Later, I’m playing outside, digging earthworms out of the dirt with a spoon, when I spot the biggest earthworm I’ve ever seen. I’m thunderstruck with joy, but as I try to approach, my dog and my best friend, a cockapoo named Gnome, jumps in front of the worm, barking like he’s crazy. I keep approaching when, suddenly, the giant worm lashes out and bites Gnome, who yelps and falls to the ground. The worm rattles off. I run inside to get my mom, to tell her that a worm just bit the dog. She gets to him just in time to take him to the vet and save his life, as he has just done mine. My mom holds me on her lap and we sing my favorite song. “Say, say little playmate – come out and play with me. We’ll climb up my apple tree.” I think about how I wish I had an apple tree with rainbow slides and branches brimming with playmates.