Monday, March 21, 2011


Today, as I re-read two new lovely reviews of Grey Zone, I have a confession: I did not think I'd made this book, the third Dulcie Schwartz, a very good mystery. My reasons were good: Last spring, my mother was declining through a series of illnesses and health crises that were rapidly building on each other. By the middle of March last year, it was pretty clear she was dying, and she passed away before Grey Zone was finished. Those last days – and for the weeks after – the last thing I wanted to write about was more death. I loved spending time with Dulcie and her friends (and her cats). But murder? I had lost my taste for it. This made finishing this book difficult, and before I did, I went back and forth several times – changing the murder to something else, and back again. When I turned it in, I thought, "well, it's a decent book about Dulcie. I'll do better on the murder mystery aspect next time.

And today I get these two lovely reviews. PW calls Grey Zone, "the best in the series so far." I'm overwhelmed. It is the first anniversary of my mother's death. There's a candle burning on our mantelpiece to recall her. I've been feeling her loss freshly for a while now – that St. Patrick's day trip to the ER. The calls from the doctors. The rushed trips over... the decisions. And yet... good reviews. I guess the book came out better than I had thought. My mom would have been proud, I know that. Bittersweet.


Katha said...

First of all Clea, this is a very remarkable post. Not many authors would reveal their struggles with writing their books so frankly and not many people would share their feelings of loss and mourning so openly as you did. Reading this post is like listening to a good friend, and it is a rare present that you let your readers get so close.

As far as the book is concerned, I'm probably the last person who can comment on whether it is a good mystery or not, because I actually read the series because I love books with cats, and I have to admit, already after having read the first book I had fallen in love with Dulcie and her cats. I also think, though, that the book is very good. The most touching parts for me were Dulcie's fear of losing Mr. Grey and her struggle with moving on in her life. And that alone already lifts the book far above an average mystery.

Thank you very much Clea, for your books and this posting. I look forward very much for your next novels!!

Clea Simon said...

Thank you, Katha! It's both comforting and warming to hear from a reader such as yourself. I'm beginning to think, actually, that my negative feelings about that time had made me think GZ was worse than it is. At least, I hope that's the case. I wonder if I'll ever be able to enjoy it?

Karen, author of "My Funny Dad, Harry" said...

Sad for you losing your mother, my sincere condolences. I just found out about you and your cat books and look forward to reading some of them! I became a cat lover because my dad took care of strays in his neighborhood and took some in so I got to know them too. I'll be adding you to my blogroll!

M.E. said...

Just wanted to say that I am thinking of you at this span of the 1-year-anniversary of your mother's death.

I saw your interview on the Big Thrill - congrats!

Clea Simon said...

Thanks, folks, for all your kind thoughts.