Please welcome John Desjarlais to the blog. John knew he’d made it in just the way that would have such meaning for me…But I’ll let him tell you all about it.
I knew I made it when my book kept an editor up all night reading. She literally could not put the manuscript down. She had other urgent projects in her to-do list with higher priority, and she gave my book a quick glance after I emailed to inquire politely about the manuscript’s status (not having heard from her in a good while).
One glance was all it took. One read-through without stopping. She emailed the publisher very early in the morning (with a cc to me) urging an immediate contract.
This was VIPER (forthcoming in March 2011), the sequel to BLEEDER, the contemporary mystery this editor had acquired the year before. Sophomore books are often more difficult to write and – according to many in the biz – are weaker than the debut. But VIPER required very little editing, whereas BLEEDER needed more work. That story showed great promise and was in pretty good shape, but the editor skillfully spotted the gaps and gaffs and there was some serious re-writing to be done. Not with VIPER. Hardly a line changed.
This was nearly miraculous, since VIPER was much more challenging than anything I’d done before. The protagonist, Selena De La Cruz, is a 30-something Mexican-American woman coming to terms with her bicultural identity and her place in a man’s world. So much could have gone wrong – not to mention all the potential pitfalls of mystery writing. Apparently, it all rang true and there was no misstep to trip up her all-night marathon. “More compelling than BLEEDER!” she told the publisher.
I’d made it.
A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, John Desjarlais teaches journalism and English at Kishwaukee College in northern Illinois. His first novel, The Throne of Tara (Crossway 1990, re-released 2000), was a Christianity Today Readers Choice Award nominee, and his medieval thriller, Relics (Thomas Nelson 1993, re-released 2009) was a Doubleday Book Club Selection. Bleeder and Viper are the first two entries in a contemporary mystery series. A member of The Academy of American Poets and Mystery Writers of America, John is listed in Who’s Who in Entertainment and Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.