In the previous thread, Kathy D. asked me what happens next — to Tess, to her baby, to “The Girl in the Green Raincoat.”
If you haven’t read it — well, spoilers ahead. Read at your own risk.
Still here? Okay, you were warned.
I’ll take the easiest question first. Carla Scout is not going to have long-term problems associated with her premature birth. That part of the novella was inspired by three families I met when I was a reporter and their three surviving children had no health issues. (However, one girl’s twin had died and one of the families had been in NICU previous with a child who did not survive.) As the doctor told Tess and Crow: the baby’s fine, you’ll be wrecks forever. (By the way, Jennifer Weiner did a lovely job of writing about a more fraught premature delivery in “Good in Bed” then jumping ahead 13 years in “Certain Girls,” where it turns out the girl has some hearing impairment due to her premature delivery.)
What does Carla Scout mean for Tess and the series? I haven’t a clue. But I would like to go off on a tangent here and note that a lot of my books touch on the dangers of amateurism. Tess started as an amateur and progressed toward being a professional in fits and starts. Like her creator, she’s self-taught, although possibly a quicker study. The stand-alones often turn on the problems inherent in nonprofessionals trying to solve crimes. This isn’t a knock on the subgenre known as amateur sleuth novels, which I enjoy. But I also know that crime investigations are, generally, best left to professionals, and I’ve meted out some pretty stern punishments for people who think they know better than homicide detectives. (See To the Power of Three, or even the forthcoming Life Sentences.) In “Girl in the Green Raincoat,” Tess was not behaving as a professional. She was playing a game, out of boredom, and it almost had disastrous consequences.
Will/how/when “The Girl in the Green Raincoat” be published? I hope to have some answers soon.
I’m not through with Tess, by any means. But I can tell she’s through with me, at least for a little while. Dennis Lehane used to say that he imagined his series characters, Patrick and Angie, sitting in a room, listening to a phone ring, saying: “It’s him! Don’t pick up!” I think Tess would take my calls. (I’ve inflicted much less psychic damage on her over 10 novels than Lehane inflicted on Patrick and Angie in five.) But she’s a new mom, she has a lot on her plate. She’s got to figure out childcare. Crow has to decide if he’s really going to get an MBA. (I’m arguing against it.) Given the state of the economy, Tess has chosen a poor time to take on an equity partner.
So, for now, she’s on maternity leave. Not to sound too airy-fairy about this, but she’ll let me know when she’s ready to come back to work.