Frequently Asked Questions
Because inquiring minds want to know, here are answers to the questions I get asked most frequently:
Will there be a third book in the Creep series?
Here's the thing. It's not actually a series. Creep and Freak are both standalones.
While Freak takes place after Creep in the same fictional Seattle world, the books have different protagonists and different villains. The series designations that appear on a few retailer sites are confusing, and I've been working with my publisher to correct that. You can read my books in any order. Think of it like Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lecter books (and movies) - same world, same characters, but you don't have to watch Red Dragon first to enjoy the Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal.
That being said, there is a possibility that I might one day write a new story starring some of the characters from Creep and Freak. I never say never.
Okay, so I get that Creep and Freak aren't part of an ongoing series. But I'd still like to read your books in the order they were released.
I totally get it. The upside to doing it this way is you'll get all the "insider references" I like to drop in each of the books. Plus, characters from earlier books often make surprise appearances in later books, which can be more fun if you've already met them.
The release dates were:
Creep – 2011
Freak – 2012
The Butcher – 2014
Wonderland – 2015
How long does it take a write a book? Are you on a schedule to write and release books at regular intervals? When can we expect the next one?
Stop pressuring me! Kidding. It normally takes me about 4-6 months to write a decent first draft, another 3 months of revisions before I feel comfortable sending it to my editor, and I'll spend another 3-ish months working on content edits, copy edits, and first and second pass edits, depending on the publisher's production schedule. So on average it takes me about a year to complete a book. Publishing schedules don't always jibe with that, though (there was a two-year gap between Freak and The Butcher's release), and of course release dates are always up to the publisher.
Currently Simon & Schuster/Gallery Books owns the option to my next book, and I haven't sent them anything yet, because it's not ready yet. But I'm definitely working on it, and I hope to have another book finished later this year.
What's your best writing advice for new writers who are aspiring to be published?
Write a lot – put yourself on a schedule that works for you, and stick to it. Read widely. Ask for feedback. And actually listen to it. When you've written something, finished it, revised it, and then revised it three/four/five more times, and you get to the point where you've lost all perspective and are so sick of it you could cry, that's when it's ready for other people to see it. Not a day sooner.
Also, FINISH YOUR WORK. Having five great unfinished stories won't do anything for you. Finish one story, and work on it until it's so polished and shiny you can see your face in it. That one finished story is your shot at getting published. And then, while you're submitting it to agents or editors or publishers, let it go and write the next one.
What was your publishing journey like?
I got plucked out of the slush pile, so I'm proof that it happens. I wrote my first book, Creep, over a span of 14 months. During that time I workshopped it twice through Gotham Writers (online), workshopped it another two times through private workshops, wrote seven drafts, read everything about writing and publishing that I could on sites like Absolute Write and various agent blogs, and attended ThrillerFest's CraftFest in NYC. I used Publishers Marketplace to find out who the dealmaker agents were in my genre (you can use free sites like Agent Query that do the same thing) and compiled a list of 300 agents I thought might be interested, ranking them according to the following criteria:
(A): Dream agents who've sold a lot in my genre and represent authors I admire
(B): Agents with a reputable agency, but they haven't sold a lot in my genre or they're new
(C): Probably not a great fit, but they're legit, so it's worth a shot
Over three months, I sent out 98 queries in batches of 6-10, focusing primarily on the A & B categories, and tweaking my query along the way, depending on the response. Overall I got 48 rejections and 9 requests to read the manuscript (8 partials, one full). The one who asked for the full signed me halfway through reading the novel, and was an "A" agent for me.
She then put me through another two revisions, and two months later, Creep was on submission to six different editors. Three rejected the book. And then it sold to Simon & Schuster/Gallery with plans to publish it as a trade paperback. Six months later, they upgraded it hardcover.
Freak, The Butcher, and Wonderland all sold to Gallery as well, but on proposal and with a contracted deadline to complete every book.
For details about my publishing journey, scroll through my archives from 2010-2011. I blogged about it the whole way through.
Are you available for interviews, podcasts, book clubs, or guest blog posts?
Yes to all the above. You just have to give me some flexibility in terms of time, as I have a tiny, demanding, unreasonable human at home who dictates my schedule. But man, is he ever cute.
Can you tell us anything about the next book?
It's another standalone, and it's called JAR OF HEARTS! It will be published by Minotaur Book on June 12, 2018. Click here to read more about it.
Whatever happened to your cat, Kobe?
Kobe died suddenly from a chest infection right before Christmas 2015, at the age of 6. He was otherwise completely healthy. I'm still heartbroken about it, and probably will be for a long time. I'm glad he's immortalized in The Butcher (he inspired Matt's cat, Elmo), and Wonderland, silly as it sounds, is dedicated to both him and my son. I miss him every day.