Friday, April 17, 2009


For the past five years, I've had a copy of a chalk drawing hanging over my desk. I saw it in the back of some magazine, and thought to myself: My God, that's Sabina! Frank manged to blow it up. (Kapow!) He even found the name of the artist (which we've both forgotten).

Okay, you've heard about Jeff, and Tricia, and my newest character, Katie, but who the heck is Sabina?

Five or six years ago, I started writing a mystery featuring Sabina Sabina Reigns, who runs a interior design store. I wrote a couple of chapters and let it sit. I was very discouraged because I hadn't been able to sell my Jeff Resnick series, and my agent at the time wouldn't handle my cozy mystery series. I needed something different.

So I took Sabina's mystery, and turned it into women's fiction. I wrote 14 chapters and it all fell apart. Why? Because much as I like to read women's fiction, I didn't much like writing it. The story kept wanting to be a mystery. So, I abandoned it.

But I kept Sabina's picture over my desk.

And now I've sold Katie. I know what Jeff looks like, and I have a pretty good idea what Tricia looks like (think a younger Jessica Lange), and I know exactly how Katie looks, too. (Like my friend KJS back in the late 1970s--only taller.) And since it doesn't look like Sabina is ever going to see print (especially that first chapter--I used the same method of death in Bookmarked for Death), I wondered what I should do with that drawing.

I took it down. But instead of tossing it or putting it my Sabina notebook and forgetting it -- I put it in a pretty frame and hung it back on the wall. Sabina is here to remind me that not all book ideas work out. At least, not in the way you think they will.

I know Sabina, and I know her history. And one day I may yet write her story (and that of her best friend, Pippa). Just not right now.

And when and if I do write it, Sabina will be right there hanging over my desk -- ready to inspire me once again.