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The Pretender

Just sent the finished manuscript of my next book, tentatively titled The Pretender, to my publisher. Woot! Teaser below, popcorn and champagne for EVERYONE!

The Pretender Teaser

That summer, the summer of ’77, everything had edges.

Our laughter, the sideways glances we gave and got. Even the air was blade-sharp. I figured it was because we were growing up. The law might not recognize it, but fifteen’s a girl and sixteen a woman and you get no map from one land to the next. They airdrop you in, booting a bag of Kissing Potions lip gloss and off-the-shoulder blouses after you. As you’re plummeting, trying to release your parachute and grab for that bag at the same time, they holler out you’re pretty, like they’re giving you some sort of gift, some vital key, but really, it’s meant to distract you from yanking your cord.

Girls who land broken are easy prey.

If you’re lucky enough to come down on your feet, your instincts scream to bolt straight for the trees. You drop your ‘chute, pluck that bag from the ground (surely it contains something you need), and you run like hell, breath tight and blood pounding because boys-who-are-men are being airdropped here, too. Lord only knows what got loaded into their bags, but it does not matter because they do terrible things in packs, boys-who-are-men, things they’d never have the hate to do alone.

I didn’t question any of it, not at the time. It was simply part of growing up a girl in the Midwest, and like I said, I thought at first that’s why everything felt so keen and dangerous: we were racing to survive the open-field sprint from girl to woman.

But it turns out the perpetual sharpness wasn’t because we were growing up.
Or, it wasn’t only that.
I know because three of us didn’t get to grow up.

The year before, 1976, had felt like a living thing. America standing tall in a Superman pose, her cape a glorious red, white, and blue flag flapping behind her, fireworks exploding overhead and filling the world with the smell of burning punk and sulfur. Not only was anything possible, we were told, but our country had already done it. The grown-ups did a lot of congratulating themselves during the bicentennial, it looked like. For what, we didn’t know. They were still living their same lives, going to their boring jobs, holding barbecues, grimacing over sweating cans of Hamm’s and hazy blue cigarette smoke. Did it make them a little crazy, taking credit for something they hadn’t earned?

Looking back, I believe so.
And I think that, for all its horror, 1977 was the more honest year.
Three Pantown kids dead.
Their killers right there in plain sight.
It all started in the tunnels.
You’ll see.

It'll be another year until The Pretender hits shelves, but you can preorder Litani now! It releases in October.

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