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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pieces and Players

I’m thrilled to report I’ve been deep in criminal activity.
Remember Calder, Petra and Tommy – my characters in Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3 and The Calder Game?  Well, they’re ba-a-a-ack!  (Tommy insists on an ominous ta-TAH flourish here.)  And this time, they’re together in the same book with Zoomy, from The Danger Box, and Early, from Hold Fast.  They’re all in my new mystery, Pieces and Players, which will be out April 1, 2015.
It might be more accurate to say I’m in their mystery.  Everyone hears writers talk about characters ‘coming alive’ in the writing process, surprising them with rogue actions or unexpected acts of kindness.  Well.  Ever since the whisper of this five-some idea entered my head several years ago, these five voices have grown slowly louder and louder.  They got older, stronger and bossier – until they finally managed to take over. 
Help!  I muttered to myself as I began to scribble notes.  Can I keep up with these guys? 
Soon my laundry room, where I write, was a swirl of activity, and dangerously crowded; five thirteen year-olds jostled for position, surrounded by thirteen stolen works of art, a handful of suspicious adults, a sudden death, skin issues and body odor… and this is a small room.  I stopped turning on the washing machine and dryer while working; it was already far too noisy in there.  What was happening?  Yikes!  At times I felt I might fall to the floor, panting for breath, and my characters might run right over me, leaving a sneaker print on my nose and a Post-It next to it. 
Brett Helquist's illustration of Tommy, Zoomy, Early, Calder, and Petra

And then one morning I sat down with my coffee, pushed shut the laundry room door, and the five looked calmly at me.  It was clear that I was no longer in charge.  Someone had lost and someone had won.  These kids had made their unwieldy group match an unwieldy crime – a heartbreakingly true art crime that really does need to be solved – and even left some room for Mother Goose, dilly beans, and a hairy cat whose name is Rat-a-tat.  After circling around each other and me for months, the five started on a dangerous adventure. Soon my characters and I were listening to the stolen art, and -- was the art also listening?  And could that have been a ghost? 
Ms. Hussey and Mrs. Sharpe are back, along with a number of rich folks with wrinkly skin and a gorgeous old museum.  And although the action happens all over the city of Chicago in this story, my laundry room, in fact, still feels crowded. 
I’ve handed in my final copy edit, guys, and Brett Helquist has done the artwork, so quiet down!  Huh?  What are you saying? 
Oh, that!  Okay, I’ll share.  Here’s what I believe:  If anyone can get to the bottom of the biggest art heist in United States history, the one at the heart of this mystery, it’s Tommy, Calder, Petra, Early and Zoomy. 
Thirteen pieces.  Thirteen players.  And yes, a writer who feels lucky she was along for the ride.

6 Comments:

Blogger SupernovaLA said...

I can't wait! It sounds AMAZING!!!

August 17, 2014 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Sue Stan said...

You are totally amazing! I cannot wait to read this new adventure. I always say that 13 is LUCKY! :)

August 22, 2014 at 12:56 AM  
Blogger Celine said...

is it Isabella Gardner Museum? Thirteen works...so excited!

September 16, 2014 at 8:49 PM  
Blogger Celine said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

September 16, 2014 at 8:50 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Daughter's 10th birthday is 4/1/15. We've been looking forward to your next book anyway, but this will make it extra special! Very excited. Thank you!

December 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM  
Blogger LuAnn Kern said...

Only 37 more days. Only 19 more days. Every morning at breakfast we got the official count down from our 12 year old daughter. Today she was so excited--insisted I take her to the bookstore immediately after school. You should have seen her happy dance in the store aisle. We love your books! (We're trying to persuade her to pace herself so she doesn't read it all in one evening!) Thanks for the great stories and for helping her build a love of learning!!!

March 31, 2015 at 4:05 PM  

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