Years ago, at SCWC, I met agent Jennifer Herrera and gave her some very positive feedback about her writing. We definitely clicked and have remained friends since then, and the main reason I remember about the feedback I gave her is because she told me recently. She credits me as being one of the first professionals to give her encouragement as a writer. All I can say is that was very perceptive of me!
Her book The Hunter came out in January, and it is a absolute winner. It grabbed me on page one and never let my interest flag to the very end. And the book's main character proved a point I made recently on this blog about contradictory characters. I didn't use the title when I posted some of these comments before, as I didn't yet have a link to the book to share; now my review is here in its entirety.
Reading about a detective who wants to solve a crime but also understands that the person she is interviewing has a deep need to keep secrets—a need the detective shares—means I am hooked. If this same detective considers fidelity to her husband to be the most important promise she has made in her life, but she finds herself attracted to another man, almost against her will, then you will keep turning pages, even late into the night.
The author skillfully weaves place and plot, along with the above contradictions, in a way that feels real and grounded. The small town in this book came alive through its inhabitant's words and actions in a way that Stephan King's small towns do. The book kept me on the edge of my seat throughout, and in places it actually scared me, without ever being exploitative or gruesome.
Another great read that you can pre-order here is Hula by Jasmine Iolani Hakes, who I also "discovered" at SCWC. And yes, I meant discovered to be tongue-in-cheek since she didn't need me to point out or validate her talent. Anyway, I just read an advance digital review copy from Net Galley, and agreed to review the book, but just so you know, I would definitely have reviewed it anyway.
Brilliant, captivating, immersive and illuminating, Hula is the novel we have all been waiting for about Hawai'i, whether we knew it or not. Members of my haole family spent many years living on the islands, so I knew a little about the history and culture. Most of what I thought I knew was way more fictional than this steeped-in-history novel about a matriarchal family based in Hilo.
Weaving her plot together with myths, stories, and recent history, the author gave me a comprehensive education but it never felt like homework because I cared so much about these women. I cannot recommended this book highly enough. Just jump in, the water's fine.
As to my own news, I've signed a contract to publish my memoir of the first year Russel and I spent in Baja on our little sailboat, Honeymoon at Sea. More on that, including a pub date, very soon.