Today I get to say happy book birthday to my second novel, a political suspense caper called The K Street Affair (regular readers have been looking at the cover pictured on the right of this post for a few months).
The K Street Affair is in many ways a different book from my debut novel, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken, which is both exciting and a little scary.
Exciting because The K Street Affair has been a project close to my heart for many years. When I sent out queries for an earlier version with a different, now discarded title, one agent told me that the world wasn't "ready for a female Jason Bourne."
I respectfully disagreed, but heeded his advice to write something "more mainstream." I shelved The K Street Affair and wrote The Hazards instead. After The Hazards published in 2011, I couldn't resist a massive re-write of The K Street Affair.
I was drawn to its central questions about the nexus of power and money, and about whether one rather ordinary individual can—or should—risk everything she has to try to stop a massive multinational criminal enterprise.
I reject the notion that male protagonists should monopolize the market on political suspense, action and international adventure. If male thriller characters can jump out of moving helicopters, or plunge unconscious over multi-story waterfalls, and live to save the day looking dapper, then surely my heroine, Lena Mancuso, can survive a few brushes with criminal kingpins by virtue of her wits and grit.
Boys, I decided a long time ago, should not get to have all the fun while the girls sit around and talk about their feelings.
I can pinpoint the moment when my resolve to finish the project that would become The K Street Affair hardened. In May, 2010, I attended a panel discussion on crafting successful thrillers led by bestselling author and fellow Bostonian Joseph Finder. He had a list of ten authors working in the genre he admired.
There was not one woman among them.
I'm hopeful The K Street Affair will appeal to readers of both sexes. Most reviews haven't published yet, but I'm thrilled that in the early going, voices as diverse as Joey Madia from Literary Aficionado and Cindy Roesel from Chick Lit Central heartily endorsed my novel. I'm delighted that Barnes & Noble also featured it today as a book club selection.
Still, writing a different kind of novel is scary for the simple reason that I don't want to disappoint readers who enjoyed Zoe's search for man and self in The Hazards, a coming of age novel aimed at young women. The publishing business has a track record of favoring one-trick ponies. Many industry pros like authors to stay in their pigeon holes.
To that end, I'll say I've merely expanded my category, because both novels feature young, smart woman protagonists forced to find their backbones through a series of unwanted events.
I hope you'll read The K Street Affair, and let me know what you think. Here's the link for Amazon and for Barnes & Noble (which for some reason hasn't linked the print version to the Nook version yet).