As for what I'm writing, I have just finished the first draft of next year's Molly book. It's a Christmas book that will come out next November. The title is THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST. It's one of the few books I've written that I have pitched on a premise. The problem with that is that you have to deliver. I had this intriguing idea: what if a small child walked out of a house into the snow years ago and simply disappears. No other footprints but hers. Never seen again. Her body never found.
It was intriguing all right and I looked forward to writing it. However, when I started to write it I realized what a challenge I had given myself. What did happen to the child that was plausible? So my story brings Molly and Daniel to a mansion on the Hudson for Christmas. There is a definite atmosphere of tension in that house. Somebody there knows what happened to that child--or thinks that they know, and for good reason cannot tell.
Molly has her own agenda. She's battling her own demons (and I can't tell you about that part) so it becomes doubly important to her to find out what happened to that child. Well, I've finished it and I'm really pleased with the way the story turned out. But I was holding my breath about that as well... not sure I could bring off the story until I finally did.
Here's a small snippet when Molly learns a hint of the family's story at a party (which, incidentally is given by Carrie Chapman Catt, leader of the suffrage movement!!!).
“So are you staying near here?” I was asked.
“She’s staying at Greenbriars,” Sid said. “You know, that estate we can see from our windows?”
Two of the women had moved over to make room for me on the sofa. I sat and was handed a cup of hot wine punch. The warmth of the punch, the warmth of the fire, and the warmth of the reception sent a glow through me. I felt the tensions in my body ease away.
“Greenbriars?” The tall, rather severe-looking one called Josephine said, frowning as she stared out past us across the room as if she was thinking. “Isn’t that the Van Aiken place?”
“That’s right,” I said.
“And she’s finding it rather gloomy and tense from what one gathers,” Sid said.
“Just today because the hostess has not been too well,” I said hastily. I glanced around uneasily to see if Miss Lind was within hearing distance. I didn’t want her to think that I had been running down her family’s hospitality.
“Well, no wonder it’s gloomy and tense,” Josephine went on.
“Why do you say that?” Gus asked.
“Well, that was where it happened, wasn’t it?” Josephine said. “Greenbriars. Don’t you remember? Everyone was talking about it. And it was at Christmas too.”
“Oh yes,” the chubby one—Annie, I believe—agreed. “Of course. The Van Aiken child. I’d forgotten all about it.”
“A child?” I asked. “The Van Aikens had a child?”
Josephine nodded and I noticed that the group of women had drawn closer together, as one does when sharing a secret. “A little girl.” Josephine had lowered her voice. “She wandered out into the snow right before Christmas and was never seen again.”
Now I'm getting back to the TV set and may do some pacing and nail biting in the next few hours.