June 1, 2015 was the release of my very first professionally written and published piece, a short story called Love Has No Expiration. It has since been removed from the market, but like I did with the rest of my backlist when I went into business for myself, I still plan to clean, polish, and re-cover it when I have a minute to spare. This past June 1st marked my sixth year as a published author, and while that book was a teeny tiny drop of water in the vast ocean that is the book industry—we all begin at the beginning.
It was August 30, 2016 that was the game changer. That was the release of my first novel and the first book of the Snow & Winter mystery series—The Mystery of Nevermore. I had hoped that the genre and readers beyond would receive antique dealer and amateur sleuth Sebastian Snow in a positive manner, but five years and four and a half books later, (I'm including Interlude!) I'm humbled daily by how many people he's touched. Who'd have ever expected that a crotchety Luddite with a vision condition would resonate with so many?
My writing skills have grown since the release of Nevermore, for which I'm quite thankful. I feel that's all any professional can hope for. We want to write the best possible book we can, to always one-up our previous release, and I do hope that's what I managed with Nevermore, Curiosities, Moving Image, and Bones. And I hope that readers appreciated the gentle self-exploration and growth that Sebastian experienced as a man, how his relationship with Calvin development throughout each new story, and the almost full circle he came as a mystery-solving addict.
I say almost, because when I first began working on this series, it came to me as four titles, with the asterisk that I needed to end the series in such a way so it would allow for a fifth book, should everything I mentioned above coalesce into a concept that only served to strengthen and further these characters. And for two years, I only had the vaguest idea, so I never pushed it. I had other books I wanted to write, and have since begun the Magic & Steam series, Auden & O'Callaghan, as well as Memento Mori. Lots of dreams realized!
And then the idea struck like an act of God—a lightning bolt on a crystal clear day. I had three aspects that needed to be addressed in the potential Book 5:
1. Where is Sebastian as a man?
2. What will coerce him into another mystery?
3. How will his relationship come into play?
Could I continue to grow Sebastian as well as keep to the patterns introduced throughout the other four books? And I'm sure you've now asked—pattern? Yup. I am a woman who loves visual or emotional patterns in art. Every Snow & Winter book begins at the Emporium, opening on Sebastian being introduced to a tangible item that kicks off the mystery. Every book ends with the foreshadowing of where his relationship with Calvin will move next. And this is why how I ended Bones was so important. If I never did write the fifth story, could the series stand strong as-is? Yes, I believe it does. If I did write it, could the series continue on as the others were written?
Yes. It can now.
Because Bones ended on an open-ended suggestion of their married life to come. I decided to tie that into how I would make Sebastian delving into another mystery a believable plot point. He's gone through a cycle of: introduced, obsessed, wary, and forced, when it's come to past mysteries. So if he's retired from sleuthing at this stage in his life, how can I drag him back in such a way that wouldn't end in a divorce between him and Calvin?
And that's how The Mystery of the Spirits was born. So for the five year anniversary of Snow & Winter, the never-promised but always-hoped-for fifth book is now available for pre-order with all online vendors. Release is November 30, 2021.
Blurb: Antique dealer Sebastian Snow and homicide detective Calvin Winter have been happily married for a year and a half. In that time, there’s been nary a mystery in sight, and for a recovering sleuth like Sebastian, nothing more compelling than the curiosities that pass through his shop is exactly the kind of life he needs.
That is, until Calvin’s lieutenant enters the Emporium and demands insight on a bizarre Victorian object known as a spiritoscope, hailing from the early days of the Spiritualism movement. Sebastian’s extensive knowledge of all things strange leads him to consulting for the NYPD—putting him at odds with his husband, into a battle of wits with detectives, and pulled into a dangerous scavenger hunt across the city that, if Sebastian doesn’t step up to the challenge, will result in a whole lot of death.
Mystery, murder, and marriage… Sebastian’s back.