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Welcome Back to Lilydale

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:

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"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.

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You. Guys.

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.

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Latest Release

Inspired by a terrifying true story from the author’s hometown, a heart-pounding novel of suspense about a small Minnesota community where nothing is as quiet—or as safe—as it seems.

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