by Julie, wintering in New England
Michele Dorsey and I have known each other for a long time. We met through Sisters in Crime New England, served on the Crime Bake committee together, and had our debuts the same year. I’m delighted to welcome her back to the blog to talk about the third book in her series, Tropical Depression, and Saving Sabrina.
What does a writer do when a publisher tells her they don’t want the next installment of her mystery series? I wish I could tell you this is a rare occurrence but alas, it’s fairly common. I had already written a rough draft of the third book in the Sabrina Salters series when I got the news. I had been spending winters on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where the series is set constantly harvesting new ideas. My agent gently suggested I move on to something else. So, I did. Sort of.
I had developed a following of readers who kept contacting me. They wanted to know when the third Sabrina was coming out. I felt guilty disappointing them when I said I didn’t know. Although one publisher had declined to continue the series, I wasn’t convinced someone else might feel differently.
Around the same time, I noticed other authors were in the same bind having series “dropped” as it’s called, as if a lover suddenly stopped calling. A few writers found new homes with traditional publishers, while others opted for hybrid publishing. I decide not to give up on Sabrina so quickly and to examine my options. I learned about the revision of rights, which simply means you can’t do squat with your series until the publisher relinquishes the rights you signed over in your contract.
Readers and a few reviewers who missed Sabrina continued to inquire when the next book was coming. I missed her too. I’ve never shared this before, but the inspiration for Sabrina, who is the survivor of childhood trauma, was a young child I represented during my career as a family law attorney. I didn’t give up on that kid and I found I didn’t want to give up on Sabrina.
I began working on getting the rights to the series back with the generous help of the agency that represents me. Just as things were looking brighter, two massive hurricanes struck St. John with days of each other. The island was decimated. I wasn’t on island when the category 5+ storms hit but quickly learned about the devastation, including the property where I stayed each winter. When I traveled to salvage a few belongings, I saw first-hand how the island I love had been impacted. I knew in an instant that book three in the series could not ignore an event that would forever change it.
Tropical Depression became the new book three. I interviewed people who survived the storm and were committed to remaining on St. John and rebuilding. Their stories are woven into the mystery that happens during Hurricanes Irma and Maria
I finally got the rights back and have republished No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, and added Tropical Depression. Saltwater Wounds, book four will be out June 1st, and will answer questions readers have been asking about.
Writing is about not giving up. The Sabrina Salter series is about survival: Sabrina’s, St. John’s, and mine.
Readers, do you have a mystery series you miss and wish had continued? I’ll be giving away a copy of my books to a commenter!
About the book:
Sabrina Salter returns home to St. John in the Virgin Islands after a disastrous vacation in New England where her grandmother rejected her and her boyfriend, Neil, betrayed her. She discovers an employee at her villa rental agency has been murdered with a machete and her best friend and business partner, Henry, is the prime suspect. If that isn’t enough, Hurricane Irma, a category five-plus hurricane, is racing toward St. John, and her grandmother is on-island to make amends. Reluctantly, Sabrina must enlist Neil and his rusty legal skills to save Henry and help find the murderer while a killer, a massive hurricane, and her grandmother are charging her way. Can Sabrina survive the compounded forces of nature, family, and evił on an island that should be paradise?
C. Michele Dorsey is the author of the Sabrina Salter series, including No Virgin Island, Permanent Sunset, and Tropical Depression. Michele is a lawyer, mediator, former adjunct law professor and nurse, who didn’t know she could be a writer when she grew up. Now that she does, Michele writes constantly, whether on St John, outer Cape Cod, or anywhere within a mile of the ocean.