I know, I know, book 1 in my new series just released. But in this industry, we’re always working years ahead of what you see to guarantee more fun reads in the future. =) And I’m so excited to announce that I’ve just signed a contract for a stand-alone that will come after my Secrets of the Isles series is complete, before a new series begins!
If you’ve read The Codebreakers, you may have been a bit curious about one of the other cryptographers I mention in the series–Remington Culbreth, who gets progressively more serious and somber as the books go on. Well, I planted him there on purpose, mwa ha ha ha, because I already had a story in mind for him. 😉 Let me tell you a little about it.
Way back in 2004, I’d just graduated college. It was summer, and for the first time in four years, I didn’t have a job. My husband was working in Baltimore and commuting from Annapolis, which meant he was out early in the morning and got home just in time for dinner. Our goal had always been that he would work and I’d write and raise the kids, so that summer was kind of our practice run.
One night I woke up with a story idea. Now, I have never in my life gotten out of bed to go write, but I did lie there awake for an hour or two as this story idea crashed over me. I got up when David did, grabbed my laptop, and started writing. It was a contemporary story about a young man from the DC area, whose family was wealthy and important, and a young woman of mixed race born and raised in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, whose grandmother was a cleaning woman and whose mother owned an inn. Louisa had big dreams but gave them up to help her family. She and Rem fell in love one summer, but then life happened and took them apart, and when he reenters the scene years later, nothing’s simple anymore. He wants to give Louisa back some of her dreams when he sees what a bad decision of his had cost her, but she’s afraid the dream itself is too costly now.
Sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean on Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina
In the course of three days, I wrote 150 pages of this book. It consumed me. A few years later, when I’d learned SO much about writing and publishing, I did a complete overhaul of the story, and yet again it consumed me. I rewrote the entire book in two weeks. I showed it to my agent, who loved it. I pitched to a few editors at a conference and it went to committee but didn’t get a contract.
Then I got contracts for historicals, and this contemporary got pushed into my file of finished stories that may or may not ever see the light of day.
But every single year, when my family goes to the Outer Banks on vacation, those characters come back to me. I imagine Louisa standing on the porch beside me. I see Rem jogging toward the waves. I couldn’t let them go.
Springer’s Point Beach on Ocracoke
Well, a couple years ago, my best friend Stephanie said, “Oo, oo! I know what you need to do! Set your OBX story in the 1920s!”
Cue Roseanna gasping in that “Why didn’t I think of that???” way. So over the last couple years, I’ve spent my vacations toying with how best to reset Louisa and Rem into the world of 100 years ago. In the contemporary version, Rem had been an analyst for the CIA…so naturally, in the historical version, he would have been a cryptographer. I mentioned to my editor at Bethany House that I had this idea for a stand-alone at the time when I pitched The Codebreakers, and he wisely said, “Sounds like a great story, but we wouldn’t want it to feel like a tagalong to this series, so let’s put some other books between them.” But I put Rem in Room 40, so he was already in the world. And I kept thinking. And thinking.
Last September as we were strolling the empty beaches, I was thinking how unfair it was that all the really interesting things in the Outer Banks happened not during the First World War, but rather during the Second. And I had this flash of inspiration. A timeslip! Louisa and Rem set during WW1, and then a second line with another character I’d already thought up, in WW2! YES!!!!!!
After I turned in the manuscript for my second Secrets of the Isles book in January of 2021, I sat down and hammered out how this would work. Yet again, the idea COMPLETELY consumed me. And it all came together more perfectly than I’d ever imagined it could. I was so excited. So. Very. Excited. My usual way to pitch a project to Bethany House is to write a synopsis, but instead I found myself planning out each scene and how the two timelines would interact. I ended up with a detailed 20-page outline of the book, plus a manageable synopsis for the team to review, LOL.
I fell in love with the gorgeous, sprawling live oaks in the maritime evergreen forests on the island.
To my utter delight, the pub board at BHP was excited about the idea too! So, 19 years after I came up with the idea, Yesterday’s Tides will be published! The title may change (though I LOVE this title, and it fits it perfectly, so hopefully not), and the story has so many new elements, but I’m more in love than ever. Because not only do we get Louisa and Rem and Ocracoke…we get Room 40. We get themes of how the First World War shook the world in ways that triggered the Second World War a generation later. I get to explore how Yesterday’s Tides really do affect today’s currents. All the things, y’all! ALL THE THINGS.
So last week, my family took a semi-spontaneous trip to Ocracoke for research. There’s a memorial service each year to commemmorate the sinking of a British ship off the coast during the early years of WW2, which will be where my book begins, so we wanted to catch it. And while we were there we did a lot of exploring and research, both general and specific.
I still have book 3 of the Secrets of the Isles to finish writing, which is fun and I’m enjoying it–but then I’ll get to dive into this one! I can’t wait! You can expect it to release around Jan-Feb of 2023.
Are you a fan of timeslip stories with dual timelines?