I wear many hats in life: writer, mom, advocate for political change, friend and more. I cope by compartmentalizing. It is rare when one of my lives crosses over into the other. All of which makes it supremely ironic that when it comes to my writing, I am constantly crossing sub-genres and leaving fans and critics at a loss as to how to describe my writing: “cozies with an edge,” “humorous hardboiled,” “paranormal procedurals” and more. I’m not sure if it’s cost me readers, but I do know it has made marketing my books a nightmare for my publishers. And it has spawned some of the strangest covers in the history of crime fiction. The original Casey Jones covers jumped from Nevada Barr-like art to Evanovich cartoons to a couple incomprehensible melds of both and finally settled down on the fourth try to something actually resembling the tone of the book. Invariably, in a quest to guide readers, the staff of marketing always chose to weigh in with cover art on the lighter side of the equation, leaving me always having to answer readers who wrote to say they were upset by one section of my book or another that led the book into an unexpected dark corner.
I can’t do anything about it, I just have to write the book in my head that wants to come out. At the core of all my books is a desire to showcase the fundamental good of people, but of course good cannot exist unless there is also evil. Depicting the struggle between the two, and the ability of good to always triumph, is the only reason I write and I’m not sure I’d be able top confine myself to a less complex portrait of that struggle if I tried. My fundamental nature is to stretch boundaries and break rules, so telling me to tone it down and stick to a formula is only like waving a red flag in front of a bull. I’m going to put my head down and charge.
Now, however, I am happy to report that Severn House has came up with a solution. Yes, my newest publisher — one hailing from the U.K., where an appreciation for crime fiction outweighs the need to package it — created the very first cover in my entire career that I actually LOVED when I first opened it up. It’s creepy as hell. It’s atmospheric. It’s dark and foreboding. But it captures the underbelly of the book and it embodies the Evil the book seeks to describe — and it seems to me a wiser choice to err on the side of the dark, rather than the light, as has been the case with my previous books. I hope you like it, too. The book itself will be out in the U.K. this December and in the U.S. next April. Give it a try and let me know what you think about the approach.