So… I have news.
My dark urban fantasy Unholy Ghosts–which my husband described as “Ghostbusters meets Escape From New York”–sold to Del Rey, in a three book deal! I don’t have any official word on release date yet but we’re hoping for Fall ’09.
I’m so, so excited, and to celebrate, here’s the blurb from the original query letter I sent my agent and a little excerpt!
Sometimes addictions are more trouble than they’re worth…
Owing money to drug lords is never a good idea, especially not if you’re Cesaria “Chess” Putnam, possibly the only woman in the punk-rock ghetto known as Downside who really has something to lose: her job as a Debunker for the omnipotent Church of Truth.
Chess’s dealer offers her a choice. She can catch the mastermind behind the fake haunting of an abandoned airport so he can smuggle drugs into it, or spend weeks in the hospital after his enforcer breaks her habit for her—along with most of her bones. Chess picks the airport, but when a rotting corpse turns up with a soul still trapped inside and it looks as if the person responsible is one of her co-workers, she realizes the airport’s ghosts are real and this case is far more dangerous than a beating. Hey, who said downer-addicted loners made good choices?
And here’s a snippet, from the scene where Chess meets her dealer, Bump, and he outlines his plan:
He moved like he was riding a platform with oiled wheels, silently and smoothly, faster than he looked. Rings glinted on his fingers and diamond studs sparkled in his ears, but his clothes were surprisingly nondescript. Chess imagined it was his “at home” look, because the few times she’d seen him out on the streets he looked like a bedraggled medieval king. Tonight, though, he wore a plain burgundy silk shirt—another shade of red to add to the off-tune chorus—and black slacks. His feet were bare save a gold toe ring on his right foot.
He pulled a baggie out of his pocket and tossed it casually onto the table in front of her. Pills slept inside, each one whispering a promise. Pink Pandas snuggled against green Hoppers, Blue Oozers and red Nips looked patriotic set against the pure, clean white of the Cepts. Every one was a different ride. Up, down, sweet or sleazy. Two month’s worth of good feelings, right there in front of her. Her mouth filled with saliva, which she swallowed along with some of her pride in a preemptory move.
“You into me, Chess.” Bump’s voice slurred low through the room, adding to the impression he gave of a man who thought slow, moved slow. It was a lie. Bump hadn’t become Lord of the streets west of Forty-third by being slow. “You into me fuckin good, baby.”
With effort she tore her gaze away from the bag and focused on his scraggly beard.
“You know I’m good for it,” she said, hating the faintly whining tone that crept into her voice. She cleared her throat and sat up straighter. “I’ve always paid before, and I’ll pay again.”
“Naw, naw. This ain’t like before. You know what you owe? I give you the number, you see what you fuckin think. Fifteen, baby. Fifteen big ones you owe. How you pay that back?”
“Fift—I do not, there’s no way—”
“You forgetting the interest. You owe Bump money, you pay interest.”
“I never did before.”
He shrugged. “New policy.”
New policy, my ass. What the fuck game was he playing? She’d expected to be threatened, maybe. She hadn’t expected this. “Even if that’s your new policy, my actual debt can’t be more than four grand. What interest rate are you charging, two hundred percent?”
“Don’t matter what the rate is. I fuckin charge the interest I want to charge.” He leaned back against the arm of the other couch and pulled a knife out of his pocket, then started cleaning his fingernails with it. “I says it’s fifteen, so it’s fifteen. When you pay me?”
“I can go somewhere else.”
“Aw, sure, ladybird. You go anywhere you want. You head on over to Slobag on Thirtieth, see how them tattoos get ’preciated by the fuckin scum down there. But you still owe me.”
Again she glanced at the bag. Bump smiled. “You want one? Go ’head. You have one. Whatever you like.” He picked up the bag and held it out to her so it gapped open. “Go ’head.”
She cocked an eyebrow at him. “What are you going to charge me for that?”
His laugh seemed to come from his feet and roll up his body. “I don’t gotta charge you none for it, baby. You owes me enough already, ain’t you?”
He folded his knife and tucked it in his pocket. “Course…now I’m thinking…could be I know a way you pay. A way you work off your owes.”
“Forget it.” She started to stand up. She’d never go that low, no matter what. Even she had a little self-respect, and the thought of letting a grease stain like Bump have his sleazy way with her…ugh.
“Aw, baby, I know what’s in your head. Not that. Though if’n you wanted to I could take you on a real sweet ride. That’s a promise from Bump. The ladies never had it so good as when I give it them.”
He laughed, then shook the bag at her. “Go on. You take one. I know what you need, don’t I? Don’t Bump always know? Bump’s your fuckin friend, yay? So you trust Bump. Take what you want, then we have a chatter. Maybe we help each other.”
Warily she reached for the bag. Her impulse was to grab an Oozer, but she managed to refrain and took another Cept instead. She had a feeling she would need her brain for this one.
“Good, that’s real nice. Now, why don’t Bump tell you what? You hear my plan?”
She nodded, dry-swallowing the Cept.
Bump sat down next to her, close enough for her to smell the pipe room on his clothes. He smiled. “Maybe I got a problem. Maybe you help me with it.”
Uh-oh. She was going to have to turn him down. The only people who ever asked witches for favors were those who wanted either unholy luck or unholy deeds done, and she didn’t much feel like doing either. Especially considering Bump was already a pretty lucky guy, and she wasn’t a killer.
“What’s the favor? I’m not agreeing, I’m just asking.”
“Oh, I think you agree, ladybird. I think when you hear, you say yay. Let me run this down. You know the airport?”
“Muni?” Even if the third Cept had kicked in—which it hadn’t—she wouldn’t have been more mystified. Triumph City Municipal airport was a major hub, and one of the few areas that was heavily policed. Most Downside residents, especially drug dealers, stayed as far away from Muni and the surrounding factory district as they could.
“Naw, naw, what you fuckin say? Muni. Not Muni. Chester. You know Chester Airport.”
“Chester’s been shut down for years.”
“Yay, it have. But maybe Bump wanna open it back up. Maybe Bump can expand his fuckin business, he open it up.”
This was starting to make some kind of sense. “I don’t have enough pull in the Church to lean on the city leaders for something like that, nowhere near enough.”
“Bump got the pull. Bump gonna open that place wide up, see, wide up. But Bump gotta problem. Bump’s planes—planes carrying them sweet pills you ladybirds like—Bump’s planes crash. Something attacking planes, dig? Make they go all silent. Turns they off.”
“I don’t know anything about planes. I’ve never even been in a—”
“Not planes, ladybird. Ghosts. Say Chester haunted. Don’t guess on that. Somebody sending signals, making planes silent. Electromagnetics and such, yay? You find sender. You find sender, you rid they.”
He leaned back and lit a cigarette, letting smoke wreath around his head. “You catch me them fake ghosts, so my planes they fly. You catch, ladybird, and we even. No more debt to Bump.”
Squee! I love this book so much, and I’m so excited I get to share it with everyone! It’s got ghosts and drugs and gore and great music and black magic and tattoos and death curses and a black ’69 Chevelle and a hot Asian guy and a big huge greaser and…all sorts of cool stuff, and I hope everyone else loves it as much as I do!
Thanks for letting me gush a little!