Actually, I will let my friend Ann Simon tell you. She and I taught together a few years ago, and I loved working with her – she is definitely a kindred spirit! Alas, she took off a year to travel with her husband, which turned into retirement. However, her time has not been wasted! She wrote a book and has published it as an e-book. I am so excited for her!!! It’s an awesome achievement. Below are her thoughts on the book, as well as a link to Amazon if you wished to purchase it. (Go! Purchase it! Now!) Take it away, Ann!
Jaguar Sees: The Lacquer Box by Ann Simon is available at the Amazon Kindle store for electronic readers, Windows 7 phone, i-pads and other i-products. The Kindle app is currently free.
We’d been living in Moscow for a year and a half for my husband’s work, and we had long established the custom of sipping on an after-dinner vodka. One evening we were so engaged, chatting about this and that, when my husband pronounced, “I had an idea for a thriller.”
“What is it?” I asked, amazed. Steve is a scientist and his interest in creative writing was last demonstrated, well, never in the 35 years I’d known him.
“This guy goes to the craft market and buys a lacquer box. Part of the painting on the box is the key to a nuclear weapons smuggling operation.”
Hold the horses! “That’s a great idea! What happens next? How does the box lead to the smugglers?”
“Oh, I don’t know; that idea’s the only part I thought up. You should write it.”
So I did.
It wasn’t that easy, of course, but Russian winter afternoons are as long and dark and cold as they are described in Russian novels. That makes plenty of time for writing. By the time we returned to the States six months later, I had the better portion of a completed manuscript.
The “guy” morphed into a young woman (Claire) living in Moscow with her scientist husband (Jack). If this sounds familiar, I can only describe Jack and Claire as Steve and I but younger, prettier, and faster. Claire innocently buys the lacquer box and subsequently gets herself and Jack into more trouble than any two people can handle. I gave them help in the form of Claire’s Shamanic power animal, a spirit jaguar. The fun for me became marrying the two worlds: the most up-to-date technology of tactical nuclear weapons with the most ancient of spiritual belief, Shamanism. (Shamanism is fitting in a Russian story as some of the earliest evidence of Shamanism has been found in the Altai Mountains of Siberia). The enigmatic title of the book reflects its intertwining concepts: a fast paced thriller about tactical nuclear weapons smuggling with a paranormal overlay in an exotic setting that jumps from Moscow to a pine forest in Siberia: a little something for everyone. Unsurprisingly, my book is a lot like me: unique, fun, and maybe little weird. I prefer to think of it as cutting edge.
The book is categorized as a cross-genre novel because it is neither a straight thriller nor conventional paranormal fantasy. Additionally, while the spirit animals in the book are not of this world, paranormal fiction is generally about vampires, werewolves or other dark creatures. Those in Jaguar are more metaphysical, which meant that even the agents and publishers who praised my writing wouldn’t, in this economy, risk something that didn’t market as traditional genre.
Jaguar wouldn’t leave me alone, however. She sat reproaching me from my computer desktop. She wanted out! She wanted to prowl the light of day, and Claire and Jack were equally eager to roam. Fortunately, we live in the magical world of the Internet. E-publishing beckoned me.
I hired a talented young woman to convert Jaguar to HTML format. She created the cover from a photo I took from the window of our Moscow apartment. I followed Kindle’s instructions and uploaded the novel. There have been a few glitches (most notably with readers receiving the cover image), but the people at Kindle are very responsive and helpful. So there it is, my OWN novel, actually selling with actual people buying it.
People ask me, “How does it feel to have your book available for everyone to read?” It feels great, not least of all because jaguar, in all her spirit animal glory isn’t growling anymore. The only problem now is there’s a red hummingbird tapping at the screen, buzzing, “Sequel! Sequel!”