Several years ago, thanks to the wonderful blog of Betsy Lerner, I found myself quickly, and fortunately, swept up into an amazing community of kindred writing spirits. Among those great folks, was a writer named Averil Dean.
One visit to Averil’s blog and I knew this woman meant business. From the first, I was struck by the richness of Averil’s writing, the scope and grace of her words, the way she made every bloody sentence seem effortless. (Seriously: if she wasn’t such a cool and generous cat, I could have easily resented the heck out of her for all of her talent.)
Then came the news that Averil had sold her debut novel, ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES, to Harelquin MIRA, and let me tell you, friends, I have been counting the days ever since in anticipation of her launch.
Just get a load of this summary of ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES:
With haunting prose and deft psychological insight, Averil Dean spins a chilling story that explores the dark corners of obsession—love, pain and revenge.
Ten years ago, someone ruined Alice Croft’s life. Now, she has a chance to right that wrong—and she thinks she’s found the perfect man to carry out her plan.
After watching him for weeks, she breaks into Jack Calabrese’s house to collect the evidence that will confirm her hopes. When Jack comes home unexpectedly, Alice hides in the closet, fearing for her life. But upon finding her, Jack is strangely calm, solicitous…and intrigued.
That night is the start of a dark and intense attraction, and soon Alice finds herself drawn into a labyrinth of terrifying surrender to a man who is more dangerous than she could have ever imagined. As their relationship spirals toward a breaking point, Alice starts to see just how deep Jack’s secrets run—and how deadly they could be.
Oh, and did I mention ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES launches TODAY!!!???
Before I say any more, let me let Booklist spill its beans about this novel:
“Alice Close Your Eyes will have readers on the edge of their seats. Promising newcomer Dean spins a web out of the deepest human obsessions…[her] tricky tale of psychological romantic suspense will leave readers wanting more.”
((Good on ya, girl!))
So it is with great pleasure and excitement, that I welcome Averil Dean to the blog on this first day of 2014 to talk a bit about the writing life and her debut novel, ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES!
Averil, what are you most looking forward to about ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES being out in the world?
I’m looking forward to actually seeing it in bookstores. I play out the scenario in my head sometimes: I walk through those big double doors, into the warm bookish fug of Powell’s or Barnes & Noble, past the bookmarks and (please god) the remainder table, and there, in a pool of its own diffuse glamor light, is my book. Cue the choir of angels! and the trumpets! and one rabid fangirl who races up with a pen and ten copies of my book for all her friends!
Okay, maybe the fangirl is unrealistic. But there better be a f*cking trumpet.
The publishing journey is a wild and wonderful ride–but even if we think we know what to expect, the process can surprise. Tell us one part of this process that wasn’t as you imagined it would be.
Everyone involved in publishing is in it because they love books and want to see the best possible incarnation of the writer’s work. People feel passionately about what that looks like, and they’ll push and argue and persuade and cajole in order to get their points across—but for me this process has been anything but confrontational. I’ve been surprised at the relief that comes at the resolution of a sticky point, because I know that everyone is arguing purely out of love for the book. Publishing is truly a collaboration. It’s no longer me alone with my ideas, but a whole team of people devoted to their jobs and by extension to my book. I really love the vibe of all that.
Speaking of surprises…no matter if an author plots or pants it when it comes to writing a novel, certain elements–be it characters or events or both–can still come along to surprise us about our stories as we shape them. Was there a part or character in ALICE CLOSE YOUR EYES that, as you were writing, took you–and the novel–in an unexpected direction?
The book went in a much more sinister direction than I originally intended. I had planned to write a sly little neo-noir story—darkly sexy but not so angry or intense. I’m still not sure exactly what happened, but somewhere in the middle of the first draft the book took a turn for the dark side and refused to ever come back. I think this is often the case with writers. We imagine an idealized version of our stories early on, but as the work progresses it begins to take on the mood or character of the writer, whatever that might be. It’s impossible to escape yourself in writing a book; all the darkness or the beauty or fineness inside you will find its way out. Even a writer who’s willing to be inauthentic will be revealed, because the work will feel inauthentic to the reader. I had to fight through my own phoniness at first, but over time I learned to work with the unlikable parts of my character and not worry so much about this need to be loved and accepted. Not in writing, at least. I still bake cookies for the office.
Averil, my warmest thanks for sharing this incredible day with us, my dear. I couldn’t be more proud of you, lady.