You know what? I cannot imagine a future scenario where I tire of saying, “So, yeah, hey, by the way, my new book is officially published today.” Because, sheesh, I have to admit it’s a fun thing to say.
In fact, I think I’ll do it right now.
My newest novel, Something More Than Night, is officially published today!
(ETA: Be warned. There be spoilers in the comments.)
Something More Than Night is my fourth novel and my first standalone. It isn’t a Milkweed novel, and it isn’t the first book of a new series. It’s its own thing. It also happens to contain some of my favorite things that I’ve ever written.
That kickass cover art is courtesy of the amazing Will Staehle and Irene Gallo. The novel was edited by Claire Eddy, editor par excellence, for whose insight and wisdom I am deeply indebted. Bess Cozby is a superb assistant editor, handling countless details with great aplomb. I’m also grateful to Edwin Chapman for his painstaking work on the copyedited manuscript.
If you’re fixing to listen to the audio edition, you’re in for a treat. Something More Than Night is narrated by the legendary Scott Brick. His performance is absolutely pitch perfect. I’m telling you the honest truth when I say that when I go back and read the book to myselfâ€”you know, read the book that I wrote by listening to the voices in my own headâ€”I now hear the book in Scott’s voice. He’s that good.
Kirkus has called Something More Than Night one of the best books of 2013: “A doozy,” and a “[b]rain-bending combo of angelic cosmogony, high-level physics and meta-noir… The result is both dazzling and dark, and more than a little quirky.”
This book had been simmering in the back of my mind throughout the writing of the Milkweed Triptych. It was the carrot that I used to nudge myself through the days when the writing felt like a slog. Writing it was my treat to myself, a reward for finishing Milkweed. As I said to Kirkus recently, I used it as a palate cleanser.
To celebrate its release, here’s some trivia about the book.
(1) Something More Than Night is dedicated to my friends Mark Lopez, Mary Lopez, and Mark Falzini, “For a birthday.” That was a little over a decade ago. I had been living out in New Jersey, far away from everyone I knew and more than a little lonely. I got to know Mark and Mark (who will forever, in my mind, be the New Jersey Marks) and Mary (who classes up the joint) through the Princeton Amateur Astronomy Association. When they found out that I was about to turn [a round number that ends in 0] without celebrating the milestone birthday, they immediately put together a party for me. They hadn’t known me very long at all. It was incredibly sweet, and something I’ve never forgotten. Years later, I was out in their neck of the woods for a conference, so I had a chance to say hello and catch up. They asked me about my writing projects, and I mentioned that I had this idea I wanted to tackle about a murder in heaven, and it would have angels in it, but also be sort of noirishâ€¦ They embraced the idea with great enthusiasm, which was uplifting and gratifying and exciting. Since then, whenever I talk to the Lopezes, they always ask about the angel book.
They’re wonderful lovely people who have brightened my life with their kindness and friendship. This book is for them.
(2) I list Linda Piper in the acknowledgments as the real-life model for Ria’s tattoo. That’s the truth. The fictional Ria’s fictional tattoo is taken directly from Linda, with her permission. Linda worked in my dentist’s office, though she has since moved on to greener pastures. One day we were chatting about books (I happened to have a checkup scheduled for the morning of The Coldest War‘s release day) when I noticed something on the inside of her arm.
“What does your tattoo say?” I asked.
“Oh, it’s a line from an Ã‰dith Piaf song.” And then she rolled back her sleeve to show me this gorgeous tattoo rendered in a stunning cobalt-colored copperplate French running from wrist to shoulder.
“What does it say?”
“Even if I’m wrong, leave it to me,” she said.
“Holy shit,” I said. “I have to put that in a book.”
So I did.
(3) Also in the acknowledgments, I thank my friend Corry Lee for “Feynman diagrams and discussions of quantum angeldynamics.” That’s a sincere acknowledgment: Corry has a Ph.D. in particle physics from Harvard. I picked her brain while writing a particular portion of this book, and over coffee one morning we busted out the Feynman diagrams to sketch out a framework for what we dubbed QAD: quantum angeldynamics. Heh.
(4) The title of this book is a famous phrase from a Raymond Chandler quote. When speaking about his early stories in Black Mask (an early pulp where writers like Chandler and Hammett cut their teeth), he said, in part, “The law was something to be manipulated for profit and power. The streets were dark with something more than night.”
(5) Bayliss, one of the two point-of-view characters in the book, speaks in the style of a 1930s detective. In order to incorporate that delicious noir vocabulary, I read widely among noirish books of the period (many by the masters, Chandler and Hammet) and extracted all the slang I could. Then I assembled those notes into a noir slang glossary that eventually ran to 80 pages. Every single Bayliss scene in the book required heavy consultation with the glossary. It was hard work, but I’m proud of the effort.
Writing Something More Than Night was incredibly fun. And if you choose to pick it up, I hope you enjoy it, too.
[ETA: Be warned. There are spoilers in the comment thread. If you’re planning to read Something More Than Night, you might want to skip the comments for now. You can always come back later, after you’ve finished the book.]