FX is developing Heartsick for TV

Start making room on your DVRs -- FX is developing Heartsick for television.  I am over the moon about this.  FX makes some awesome TV.  Justified.  American Horror Story.  Sons of Anarchy.  These people clearly buy fake blood in bulk and know how to use it.  The plan is for Heartsick to be season one, season two would be Sweetheart, etc.  They would be short seasons, like 13 episodes.  Mikko Alanne is adapting.  He's terrific.  Trust me, he knows the characters as well as I do, and he's a true fan of the books.  So I'm thrilled!  We'll see if it gets carried all the way to fruition.  They still have to make the pilot, and then pick up the pilot.  (Details!) But it's a great team and I think they're going to pull it off.  You know, there have been various movie deals for the property over the years, non of which have made it past script development.  But I've always thought it would make a better TV show because it allows more (and slower) development of characters and plot.  Plus, it would give me an excuse to watch more TV, so there's that.  Will I be able to write off my cable bill now?         

5 Books & Albums That Changed My Life

Hello.  I have a guest blog post up on the 5 books & albums that changed my life over at Crimespree is run by two of my favorite people in the world, Jon and Ruth Jordan. Go give them some love.  And tell them I say, hi.  

Thriller Characters: A Handy Field Guide

Cliches.  Love them.  Hey, I write thrillers, and we thriller writers are nothing if not enthusiastic about revisiting plotlines.  In fact, sometimes I think every thriller character can fit into a template.  Here's what I've come up with so far:  


Detectives Who Are Haunted By Old Cases.  This is usually the detective’s first case, or a case involving a missing or murdered child (whose picture the detective still carries in his wallet).  The detective will still have all the old case files and is in regular touch with survivors/witnesses.  The case remains unsolved. 


Women Who Are Lawyers.  They are divorced.  They may or may not still be in love with their ex-husbands.  These women have cats, or alternative pets, like turtles or ferrets.  They eat sweets when they are anxious, but do not gain weight.  Men find these women very, very attractive.  Women Who Are Lawyers have girlfriends in useful professions (cop, reporter, medical examiner).  


Vicars.  If there’s a vicar, you can be sure that there’s a body in the bog.


People Who Are Hiding Something About Their Past.  Usually men.  Usually brooding.  Their past commonly involves a stint in special ops.  Now “the company” is looking for them.  These people know fifty ways to kill you with a letter opener, and they usually go by their last names. 


People Who Have to Come Out of Retirement to Take Care of Business.  These people used to be judges or cops and now they are finally out of the game and living on the beach in Baja when something comes up that forces them back to “the city” where they must clean up some mess that everyone else is incapable of addressing.  


People Who Live On Boats.  Why do so many characters in thrillers live on boats?  No one knows. 


Women Who Are Forensic Experts And Have Complicated Relationships With Their Fathers.  Oh, these women are tough and pretty.  They know their livor mortis.  They are famous in their field, and their fathers are retired cops.  They date, but their boyfriends usually turn out to be murderers.  


Women Who Have Been Raped And Are Mad About It.  Sometimes these women are cops.  Sometimes they are district attorneys.  It doesn’t matter.  Revenge will be sought. 


Hobbyists.  These people do not have jobs.  They are independently wealthy or have recently come into a financial windfall due to some sort of legal settlement.  This gives them a lot of free time to get involved in other people’s business. 


People With Massive Chemical Dependency Issues.  These characters used to be satisfied just hitting the bottle, but in recent years they have embraced pain pills, anxiety meds, antidepressants, marijuana, cocaine, and even heroin.  Somehow, they remain excellent at their jobs in law enforcement.   


Cops Whose Partners Have Been Murdered.  Hello, survivor’s guilt.  These characters now have new partners who must be scorned before finally emerging as trustworthy allies.  Sometimes the new partners are then murdered, which is a real drag. 


People Who Are Recovering From Injuries Sustained In The Previous Book.  Limps.  Scars.  Bandages.  Physical therapy.  These hobbled characters are slowed down just long enough to solve a hospital related mystery. 


Cops Whose Whole Families Have Been Murdered.  These cops are almost always men, and they are not happy at all about the fact that their families have been murdered.  They blame themselves.  They should have been home.  They should have avoided the ire of that psychopathic serial killer.  They do not like to talk about it.   


Innocent Bystanders.  These people have regular jobs and yet always seem to be stumbling across dead bodies.  They use their skills as chefs/accountants/librarians/horticulturists to help solve the crimes.


Women of a Certain Age.  These women are menopausal and unmarried or divorced.  They work in law enforcement and do not have children.  Excellent at catching killers, these women often struggle with the jerky men they work with.  These women have a surprising amount of casual sex.  They usually live in Canada.


Scandinavians.  They are smart and droll and their land is overcast.  Also, terrible things seem to happen to them.  


Bad Guys Who Are Good Guys.  These protagonists are on the gray side of the law: hackers, cat burglars, con artists, and killers who kill killers. 


People We Want To See Kiss Each Other.  These characters work in law enforcement and tend to be brought together with another law enforcement professional or consultant to solve cases.  Guess what?  They totally love that person.  And that person loves them back.  But neither one will admit it because they are both workaholics and emotionally retarded.  Just kiss already!


Journalists.  Once a popular thriller character, these days, journalists are more likely to be secondary characters whose grisly murders are secretly applauded by the reader.  


Parents Whose Children Have Been Threatened.  Luckily, the parents in question often have highly specialized training that allows them to hunt down and assassinate the people who have menaced their young.   


People Who Are Trying To Escape.  These characters have been kidnapped and spend the book trying to get away.   


People with PhDs.  Clinical psychologists.  Lesbian academics.  Criminology professors.  People with PhDs usually team up with law enforcement professionals and work as consultants on their cases.  (See People We Want To See Kiss Each Other.)   


Novelists.  Almost always true crime writers or thriller writers, these characters inevitably get caught up in a real life homicide investigation, which they solve, write-up, and publish to great acclaim.  They usually live alone and are almost always inexplicably irritating. 




Books I'm giving as holiday gifts this season

PNBA (the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association) asked me to share a list of books I'm giving as holiday gifts.  My first reaction was, but doesn't that ruin the surprise?  Then I thought, oh what the hell, I'll do it.  So if you are my cousin Cecily, my aunt Colleen, my aunt Patricia, my uncle Phil or my step mother Susan, do not read this post until after Christmas.  As for everyone else, I realize that you are probably excellent people, and have completed all of your holiday shopping, in which case this list is pretty much useless to you.  Though, hey, Ground Hog Day is coming up.  And books are the traditional Ground Hog Day gift, no?  At least that's how we do it in my family.  Click on the link below to see the books I'm planning on gifting.

The Night Season is in paperback

The Night Season is just out in paperback, and makes a lovely stocking stuffer.  Wrap it in gauze and slip a scalpal under the bow.  It makes a thoughtful holiday gift.  Best read in front of the fire with a glass of brandy.  Vicodin optional.   

News about book five!

I finally have a title for book five in my Archie/Gretchen series.  it's called KILL YOU TWICE.  Please don't tell me if you don't like it.  Just smile and give me a thumbs up.  Then give me a hug.  Possibly, after that, you could rub my shoulders.  (Titles are REALLY hard.)  The book, ahem, KILL YOU TWICE, will be out this August.  I will start shouting at you the moment you can pre-order.  I think you guys are going to like this one. 

A Just So Halloween Story

Happy Halloween!  I've been reading Rudyard Kipling's Just So stories to my daughter, and ending up writing this rather twisted parody.  In real life, it is a bad idea to shake your baby.   


This, O my Best Beloved, is a story—a new story, a terrible, terrible story, of a mother’s love for her baby. 

This baby was cruel, O my Best Beloved, always hungry, always crying.

Back when the world was wild, in 2001, in a house in Spokane, Washington, the mother, kind, tired mother, wanted some peace and quiet. 

“Please go to sleep, baby,” the mother said.

“I will not!” shouted the baby--always hungry, always pooping--and then the baby began to scream.  The scream was so loud that it frightened the salmon who all swam back to the ocean, and startled the eagles who fell from the sky.  So the mother--always giving, always changing diapers--shook the baby, she shook and shook her until the baby’s head was loose--her bad baby--always hungry, always yelling. 

And after ever so many shakes, the baby was dead.

Off ran Mother, kind, frantic mother—always giving, always making dinner—she buried the baby in the backyard under the apple tree.  

She had to!

Then the mother slept.  She was so tired she slept for three days and three nights.  And the salmon returned and the eagles flew in the sky. 

But after three days and nights, that baby--that bad baby, always hungry, always spitting up--was hungrier still.      

Up jumped Baby from her shallow grave, her skin pearly and bruised, sloughing off, revealing rotting muscle meat underneath, maggots and beetles in her eyes.  Fast ran Baby--still hungry, still crying--into the house, flies following her.  She ran to her mother’s room. 

“Feed me!” the baby howled. 

The baby was already gnawing at the cat, holding it by the neck, its throat torn open, blood and cat hair around the baby’s mouth. 

O my Best Beloved, imagine the mother’s surprise. 

Up jumped Mother—always anxious, always vacuuming--from the bed.  She caught the baby and wrapped her in a garbage bag and tied the garbage bag with rope and then she drove down the cul-de-sac, down the highway, past the big box stores, to the bridge and she tossed that bad baby overboard into the river. 

She had to!

              Off drove mother--kind, loving mother--over the bridge, past the big box stores, down the highway, up the cul-de-sac, all the way home, where she took a Valium and turned on daytime television until her head stopped pounding.

            Then she rested.

            Law & Order was on.

            She watched ever so many episodes.

            Night came.

            Up jumped Baby – hungrier still, always with a diaper rash, never satisfied, never happy--from her watery grave.  Her flesh half-eaten by fish, eels in her eyes, she ran up the riverbank, over the bridge, past the big box stores, down the highway, up the cul-de-sac, flies following her.

            “Feed me!” she yelled.  She had no manners then, and she has no manners now, and she never will have any manners.

            Up jumped mother, halfway to the kitchen, halfway to the butcher knife, but then she paused. 

            Something was different. 

            Baby was quiet.  Baby—hungry baby, always kicking, always clawing--was still.  Baby was watching the TV set.  Baby was good. 

            Mother--always singing, always reading Goodnight Moon, never complaining--patted Baby’s slimy fontanelle.

            The house was quiet. 

And that, O my Best Beloved, is why mothers let their babies watch television to this day.    


Larry Brooks asks questions. I answer them.

Hi, guys.  Head on over to, and check out an interview I just did with Larry Brooks. There's probably a way to hyperlink that, but I don't know how, so you will have to laboriously type it into your address bar.  So much trouble, I know. 

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