Tuesday, February 09, 2016

The Second Coming of Mary Stewart

It appears that I wasn't selected for the local teen book festival (yeah, in spite of being local and having a book on the library association's list of recommended reading) because they've announced all the attendees. Not that they've notified me either way, which I believe is rather rude. I had a long bout of feeling sorry for myself yesterday because it's already being a very tough year, career-wise. My agent actually forgot about me (well, something I'd sent months ago), it's not looking good about my publisher picking up my option book, royalties are way down across the board, and now this. Oh, and an out-of-town for-profit convention that invited me out of the blue (but for which I'd have to pay my own travel expenses) is only planning to put me on three panels for the whole weekend -- basically, they're paying in "exposure" without providing the exposure, so I'm considering backing out because I can't justify the considerable time and expense for so little payoff.

It's enough to make me wonder if this business is worth it and if I even have a future. But then I remembered that quitting would require getting a regular job, and that would probably require leaving the house, and I hated my old job, and I'm probably unemployable at my age with my last real job being more than a decade ago, and it would take a lot of retraining to do anything else. So I guess I'll just have to make this work and become really successful, and then when this book festival wants me, I'll laugh and tell them that I'd rather not deal with them after the way they behaved the last time I dealt with them.

Which means I'd better get busy writing. "Success is the best form of revenge" schemes require so much work.

In other news, in my day of lazy reading this weekend, I found a new-to-me author who seems to be basically the Second Coming of Mary Stewart -- contemporary, sort of Gothic romantic suspense. The author is Susanna Kearsley, and the book I read was The Splendour Falls. A young Englishwoman is invited by her cousin to join him for a holiday in a French town with a famous castle. The cousin is an academic who studies the Plantagenets, and this town and castle were held by them. There are legends about a great treasure the wife of King John hid there when the castle was under siege, and the cousin thinks he's found a good local source to discuss this. But when the heroine arrives, her cousin isn't there to meet her at the train station as promised. He's a notorious flake, though, so she doesn't think much of it and makes friends among the other guests at the hotel while she figures he'll eventually show up after he's done being sidetracked. Then she learns about a recent suspicious death and another local legend related to treasure, and she discovers something that leads her to believe that her cousin has actually been in town.

There are all the things that I used to love in the old Mary Stewart books -- picturesque setting (I even looked it up, and now I want to go there), a couple of possible love interests, but you don't know which one she'll end up with, secrets and mystery, a tie to history. And it doesn't have some of the stuff I used to dislike in those books. The heroine is a lot stronger and less of a victim, and the "dark, dangerous" man who treats her like a child isn't shown as all that appealing. This book was originally published in 1995 (this seems to be a newer edition, published in 2013), so in a lot of respects it's not that different from the Mary Stewart books. It's before the age when people would have just Googled to get information and before cell phones were so ubiquitous (it would have ruined the plot if she'd been able to just call her cousin and say, "I'm at the train station, where are you?"). This one was modern, but not too modern.

And the wonderful thing is that there are lots of books by this author, so next free weekend I get, I'll have to stock up from the library.

I will confess that ever since I started thinking about doing some traveling, when I read a book set in a hotel, with the guests as characters, I find myself thinking about how I'd be described as one of the guests. Probably that quiet one who keeps to herself and is prone to long, solitary walks and is therefore the first suspect.

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