Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I Couldn't Make This Up (Although I'll Have To Make Other Things Up)

I had supper last night with Todd Strasser, at Legal Seafood for those who are curious, and I had trout, if you really want to know. The restaurant is located in The Hideous Mall In Nyack, about halfway between our homes.

I hadn't seen Todd since my 75th book party, way back on June 1, and it was good to spend time with him. We talked about career stuff, aging parents and pets, friends, books, movies. He was just back from a two week book tour in Germany. We had a lot to catch up on.

When we got up to leave, a well dressed man came over to us. He said he'd been having dinner with someone on the other side of the restaurant, and while he couldn't hear a word we'd said, he'd loved watching us talk, because we were so animated. It was good to know that the art of conversation wasn't dead.

I've been praised for a lot of things in my life. My mother, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, thinks I'm cute. But never before have I been lauded for an inaudible conversation.

Then again, Todd is very good looking. That always helps.

What I couldn't tell Todd, because it didn't happen until this afternoon, is that Harcourt, my agent and I have agreed to terms for the third book. Alas, my very cute mother pointed out this means I actually have to write it.

I knew there was a catch somewhere.

Fortunately, I've been doing a fair amount of thinking about Book Three. I had my weekly epiphany that lots of bad things happen in Life As We Knew It and the dead and the gone and therefore lots of bad things are going to have to happen in Still Untitled, or else people who really like LAWKI and d&g because of all the bad things that happen in them are going to be very disappointed (this could well include my editor).

It's a tricky balance between having things get better, so my characters can stay alive, and having things get awful in new ways, so my readers won't get bored. I've been picturing a scene where the cellar floods (no electricity for the sump pump), and while they're bucket brigading the water out, Matt collapses headfirst and Miranda has to lift his head up to prevent him from drowning. She and Jon get Matt out of there, but for the rest of the book there's the struggle between terror of Matt's dying from his weakened heart and his refusal to behave like an invalid.

As things progress, I'll keep you posted. I figure the book won't come out for another year and a half and by then you'll have forgotten everything, so you can read the book and be surprised all over again.

And just think what animated conversations you'll be able to have about it!


Anonymous said...


First and foremost, I loved LAWKI.

However, the weak person/invalid card was already played in TDATG.

Is there some new terrors you can give them, a la The Day After Tomorrow (rabid animals, gangrene) or I am Legend (that terrifying sense of aloneness yet with the hope there's a colony somewhere for people to start over again).

Just throwing stuff out there. I'm a HUGE fan, and I just want this third book to be gangbusters.

-Susan (Another One)

Anonymous said...

Too bad the election will be over by them or you could have (as a background story) the Obamians fighting the McCainics for control of the government.

I once fell through ice into freezing cold water and that's no fun.

Why not incorporate a teeny little bit of the idea you had about a travelling troup of performers? Maybe there'd be just one of them to start with, and he/she would be spreading news... and possibly he/she wouldn't be all that nice.

Just some ideas; looking forward to the new one!


Stephanie said...

HORRAY!!! I'm SO happy we're going to have a book 3!!! :D Good for you and your animated conversations!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I still recommend THE WORLD THAT WE KNOW as a title for Book 3.

You could still use the Lisa/postpartum scenario I gave in the last post. Having to care for Baby Luke (if that's still his name) will be one factor in Miranda's decision to go for a medical career.

I liked the idea of Megan's minister dying from rabies while his skeletal flock chanted around him; I'd accept that as a substitute demise, especially if it came as close as possible to Miranda's earlier statement about how she'd like him to die.

Glen's idea could still be used -- after all, you didn't specify WHEN the meteor hit, and even if you did, with different names, the idea's still good.

Dan's father could break the news to Miranda that Dan only got as far as Santa Fe, and that because the west coast of California finally succumbed to "the big one," the sister's presumed dead. Plus, if Dan returns, he brings with him a woman (not Julie; I still think she comes with the parents to take care of Luke because Miranda's dad is worried about Lisa) who he met in Santa Fe -- and she wears glasses with pink frames.

Anonymous Santa Fe

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Anonymous Susan (great name, even with the Anonymous) and to Glen, and to Texas Pixie and to Anonymous Santa Fe-

Thanks for the ideas and insights. I truly appreciate them.

I'm still at the multiple possibility stage of working things through. I asked my agent to find out what the deadline would be and my editor told her it was my choice, so I need to determine a date I'll be comfortable with.

I also asked my agent to find out when the paperback of d&g will come out, and the answer was Jan. 2010. I'm glad about that, since Book 3 (and I'll start thinking about titles right away) should come out shortly after that and then there could be a plug for it in the d&g paperback (just as the LAWKI paperback has a plug for d&g). It'll be easier to plug if it has a title.

Neither my agent nor my editor e-mailed me to say that LAWKI was on the Times best seller list again, so my guess is it's fallen off.

I think that brings you up to date on everything. I'm off to begin atoning (if nothing else, I have a lot of desserts over the past few days I should atone for!).

Anonymous said...

I would like to say first off, that I am absolutely enthralled with your books. I hold LAWKI and d&g right up there with The Catcher in the Rye, the Midnighters series by Scott Westerfeld, and John Marsden (also a writer of end of the world type events, but in the form of war) among others, as my favorite all time books. I, of course, cannot narrow down my favorite to one, because I am, plain and simple, a book fiend.

As much as I loved Miranda and Alex's point of view, I'm a tiny bit disappointed that you aren't going with the girl from Texas plot line. It would kind of show what went on in the south's point of view, since they have a warmer climate and it's different from the New England setting of Pennsylvania and New York (which ironically, I read d&g in NYC, but I read LAWKI in Maine, but went to PA shortly after!), and all the people traveling from the Northeast seeking a semi-better lifestyle.

Then again, it's good to be able to see how the characters are doing.

Man, did I ramble. I tend to do that when I talk about books that I really, really like. I get all excited and flustered. Haha!


Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hi Anonymous Catherine-

Thank you for your kind words.

I'm a little bit sorry that I won't be exploring what's happening in Texas (or anywhere else for that matter), but the more I think about the third book as a sequel to LAWKI, the happier I am.

And given what's going on with the stock market, I'm happier still that I'll have some money coming in!