Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
November 2011, Kate Kaynak, head of Spencer Hill Press, sent me an email with a manuscript she thought would be something I’d love. It was my first manuscript since working with Kate on UnCONventional. I’d done about six other novels/non-fiction books on a freelance basis with the authors; this was the first novel for SHP, the first novel a publishing house was contracting me to work on.
So, I was a little nervous, I have to admit.
But I loved the manuscript. Kate had – and still has – a good eye for my taste in books. I grew up reading all the Goosebumps and Fear Street books; I loved YA horror in a contemporary setting. High school sucks, so I enjoy reading about how much worse it could be.
And I know going into a manuscript that I’m going to have to read and re-read it dozens and dozens of times. For freelance work, I’ve done books I just like, because, well, it was income. With the way Kate was organizing her editing team for SHP, we had our choice from the submissions and slush pile. We had the choice to choose something we could thoroughly enjoy reading dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times over. Touch of Death definitely fit that bill for me.
In any case, Kelly served me a zombie deer in the first five pages, an icon I adored right from the start. I still have the plush one she sent me “guarding” my desk! He’s going to travel with me to Arisia this week, too, because he totally deserves to be at the A-Prom-Calypse Release Party. There was also a zombie squirrel. Yay undead critters! (Yes, I’m weird like that.) Even moreso, I connected with her main character, Jodi, and I absolutely appreciated where she was taking Greek mythology, particularly the Medusa story… because, as far as I’m concerned, the original myth of Medusa seriously screwed the poor woman… and plenty of modern myths are still just dealing with the “monster” aspect as opposed to the “person” aspect of her.
Besides how much I loved the novel, itself, here’s what I loved the editing process. First of all, there wasn’t a lot of changes that needed to be made. (Well, in my editing experience, it wasn’t a lot for me, anyway. Kelly is free to disagree. 😉 ) We went over a few of my usual suspects – things that surprise me if I don’t play with – like some car physics (Thank you Hollywood vs. Mythbusters), battle/fistfight physics and psychology, hospital/medical protocol (Thank you TV hospital dramas vs. actual medical persons), and then the two of us had a good time keeping an eye on Jodi’s fluids and their resulting body/resurrection count (Kelly actually caught one biggie that I missed in regard to this!) All of which were easy-peasy and a lot of fun.
Now, Kelly has the superpower of speedy turnaround – definitely the fastest author turnaround that I’ve ever worked with for a novel length, while addressing everything I noted. When I say “address,” I mean it with a liberal definition – but an entirely positive one. Nothing got ignored or forgotten. She may have not have followed all of my suggestions, but she answered all of my questions… and then did her own thing which, in all cases, was way better than what I suggested anyway.
Even now after having seen it from submission to publication, I still have opened up my editor’s ARC it to look up something for marketing or such… and still gotten lost in the pages.
And as of this week – it’s available for anyone to purchase and love! I can’t wait to see this turn into something very awesome for Kelly.
(Especially since I know what happens in the sequel, Stalked by Death! Mwahahaha!)