Do you want to learn more about writing, including receiving marketing tips and tricks, deals on valuable workshops and retreats, and time management hacks? Join the VIP Writer’s Club! You’ll receive free VIP access to an online novel-writing course just for signing up and can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.Become a VIP Reader!
Interested in free books, exclusive bonus content, and VIP early access to Jess’ upcoming projects? Then sign up here to become a VIP Reader.
February 21, 2021
As a child, I became convinced that I was going to find buried treasure. I'd walk around the 13-acre hobby farm I grew up on carrying a hand spade until I felt the exact right spot to dig. I'd drop to the ground and spend hours in the hot sun moving dirt.
Sometimes I'd hear a scrape, and my heartbeat would pick up. My brain would immediately triangulate the surrounding area, calculating how wide I'd have to dig to excavate the pirate's chest I'd just hit. The next shovelful inevitably revealed a muddy stone, not gems, but I took it as a good sign and kept on digging.
Reader, I never found treasure.
At least not the Richie Rich emeralds and rubies I'd been digging for. What I did stumble on was something like a meditative state, a safe and soothing world I could enter at any time and live in the comfort of my imagination.
Writing gives me the same feeling, or at least it does once I actually start digging. That phase before I get my hands in the dirt? It's paralyzing. You know the stories we tell ourselves now, as adults: This is a waste of time. I don't know what I'm doing. I should be cleaning my house and finally learning what the S & P 500 is.
I don't only feel these nerves at the start of a project. I have them every single day before I dig in. And the breakaway success of Unspeakable Things amplified them. Now I not only have the doubts, I have doubts about the doubts. Who am I to have a crisis of confidence?
I'm sharing this with you because I'm officially starting a new project today, and it's unlike anything I've written before. I've spent the morning being upset at myself for how scared I am. That's what made me thing of little Jessie, out there on the farm with her shovel in hand. It was the adventure she loved, the possibility of discovery and connecting with something bigger, the comfort of living in her imagination.
Today, I'm going to write like that. Maybe tomorrow, too. After all, I'm the only one stopping myself.
December 31, 2020
BLOODLINE officially releases tomorrow. Woot! Ferguson Books in Grand Forks has signed copies available, and Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis has signed copies plus free Perfect Housewife kits available (while they last; contact Once Upon a Crime for more info). I’m proud of this book. (Well, except for the fact that it’s set in 1968, and at one point, the main character refers to unleaded gas; a reader informed me that unleaded gas wasn’t available until the ‘70s—the more you know.) But really, the book hits everything I wanted it to, and this Criminal Element review says it best:
"Jess Lourey’s latest novel feels like an exceptionally timely allegory for Americans and especially, but not exclusively, for white women like herself, a reminder to resist the desire to turn away from the real challenges of modern life in favor of a dream of an America that never was. That false idea of perfection and safety, born of insularity and a strict adherence to conformity, can only crush the individuals within it, even as it struggles to keep itself aloft on the backs of the spirits it has destroyed.
Bloodline works as both social commentary and as a cracking psychological thriller, combining bits of The Stepford Wives with Rosemary’s Baby, as well as other literary influences it gives clear, clever nods to in the text. Inspired by a true story, it’s a creepy page-turner that has me eager to read more of Ms. Lourey’s works, especially if they’re all as incisive as this thought-provoking novel."
Like Unspeakable Things, Bloodline is set in Lilydale, Minnesota, a fictional town inspired by my hometown of Paynesville. Both books have their roots in a true crime, and each book’s true crime took place in and near Paynesville. The common belief that small town USA is safer than the big city hasn’t been my experience. Small towns have their own heinous crimes, and it often feels more personal. Plus, it’s hard to hide in a small town.
They can find you.
Paynesville would have been perfect for a creepy small town ("pain"ville) if it weren’t already taken. I was puzzling over the ideal name while writing Unspeakable Things when—true story—I woke up with the phrase “Lily Dale” in my head. There’s a tiny suburb of Minneapolis named Lilydale, and I wasn’t interested in creating any confusion by recycling it in my book. The name I’d seen in my head was spelled differently, though. I figured I’d go online and see if my sleepy brain had played a trick on me or if there was an actual town named Lily Dale.
There sure is.
"During the summer, tens of thousands flock to Lily Dale, established in 1879 as a gated spiritualist center and today the world's largest community of mediums, with more than 35 certified mediums and spiritual healers registered with the assembly. Some read palms while others read Tarot cards or give aura chart readings; whatever their method of transporting messages from the Great Beyond, all must pass a test and be registered with a spiritualist church.”
This quote was pulled from one of many articles on this spooky powerhouse of a village out in New York. I hope to visit the place this summer, and will report back. In the meanwhile…it was the perfect name for this creepy fictional world I was creating and was planning to inhabit with creepy people. I also loved the idea of turning on its head the expectation that “lily white” refers to something pure or preferred. It really was the best possible name for the town.
In the end, I combined Lily and Dale into one word (yep, like the Minneapolis suburb) because it reads smoother, but don’t be fooled. The Lilydale I’ve created is a fictional town that hopefully feels all too real, a claustrophobic fishbowl inspired by the unexplained, the unfair, and the evil, but also a place where justice triumphs.
I hope you enjoy returning to it in Bloodline.
December 1, 2020
BLOODLINE OUT NOW!
“Based on a true story, this is a sinister, suspenseful thriller full of creeping horror.” —Kirkus Reviews
Bloodline has been chosen as an Amazon First Reads and is releasing a month early! I am over-the-moon thrilled. What this means is that if you have Amazon Prime, you can read it for free. If you don’t have Amazon Prime, you can read it for $1.99.
Like Unspeakable Things, Bloodline takes place in Lilydale, a fictional version of my hometown of Paynesville, Minnesota. Also like Unspeakable Things, Bloodline is inspired by a true crime that took place in my hometown, though this one was never solved. The author’s note at the beginning of the book tells the whole story. And look for some Unspeakable Things Easter eggs in this one!
I hope you enjoy Bloodline!