First up, I got the cover for my next Kensington novel, The Road Home. After making a slight detour with the cover for What We Remember we're back to the look of the earlier novels. Once again the cover art is by painter Steve Walker. It's called "Tender in the Grass."
The Road Home is a "smaller" story than my last couple books have been. It focuses on one man--Burke Crenshaw--who following an accident finds himself recuperating in his childhood home in Vermont with the help of his widower father. When Burke, who is a photographer, becomes interested in the story of a Civil War soldier who lived in the area, he begins a journey of discovery that unearths not only the secrets of the past but of Burke's own life.
Oh, did I mention that there's also a torrid little romance involving the son of Burke's best friend from high school (with whom Burke once had a never-again-mentioned encounter)? And that during the course of his investigation into the Civil War mystery Burke meets an oddly-appealing librarian who forces him to rethink everything he believes about what it means to be happy?
No? Well, that's all in the book too. You can find out for yourself when it comes out in June of 2010.
Of more immediate interest is the latest review for Jane Bites Back. This one comes from Kirkus.
Keen readers will perhaps pick up on the semi-snarky remark in the closing lines of the review. Do not be alarmed. Kirkus reviews are required by law to contain at least one bitter morsel*, and for them this is radiant praise. I am very pleased.
And now to their verdict:
Armed only with her vampire powers, 192-year-old Jane Austen hits the publicity trail to promote what fond readers think is her first novel. Though the standard reference works agree that the author of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park died in 1817, they’re all wrong. After being turned into a vampire by a bite from a contemporaneous celebrity author, Jane Austen faked her own death and went into hiding. At first she sought the company of her own kind, but she drifted away from vampires and ended up as Jane Fairfax, owner of Flyleaf Books in cozy Brakeston, N.Y.
The only blots on her happiness have been her inability to return the love of widowed carpenter Walter Fletcher—what would she tell him when he grew older but she didn’t?—and the 116 rejection slips awarded her novel Constance. (There’s some justice here, since excerpts employed as chapter epigraphs are rather overripe for Austen.) Now, however, the second of these trials seems to be at an end. Kelly Littlejohn of Browder Publishing loves Constance and wants to publish it in time for the beach-reading season. Jane promptly scores a spot on the TV show Comfort and Joy and an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Soon after she’s invited to a conference on romance fiction and Constance debuts as #1 on the NYTBR list. But Jane’s Cinderella story is comically curdled by her discomfort with airplanes, makeup and publicity, the need to keep her private life private, dark accusations of plagiarism—not to mention her thirst for the blood of an English professor, one of the talk-show hosts and, most satisfyingly, the philistine author of a self-help volume entitled Waiting for Mr. Darcy.We'll just ignore that "not quite as funny" part. It's a fine line. Go too over the top and they accuse you of parody. Try to keep it just this side of that line and you're "not quite as funny." And so it goes.
Ford (What We Remember, 2009, etc.) approvingly cites Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but his own mashup is better integrated, more knowledgeable about Austen and considerably funnier—although not quite as funny as his gorgeous premise might suggest. First of a promised trilogy.
*This is not true. No one makes them do it. They just do.