When bestselling author Patricia Rice was unable to get "the book of her heart" published in traditional format, she self-published this cross-genre tale as the new e-book Evil Genius.
Evil Genius begins with the line: “My name is Ana, and I’m a doormat.” That line has stayed with the book in all its incarnations because Ana is one of those rare characters who has depth from the moment she walks on the page, which meant she had to be written in first person.
The problem with first person is that a large part of the market detests first person, which makes editors leery of buying it. Despite knowing market limitations, I simply wrote the book that was in my head and heart. Evil Genius took me on a wild, fascinating ride. Characters tripped off my fingers. I had huge fun brainstorming second, third, and fourth books for a world-traveling family of eccentrics who knew how to find trouble without looking.
In the process, I produced a sprawling book about Ana and her half-siblings: aristocratically gay Nick, nine-year-old cynical genius Elizabeth Georgiana, and their mysterious mother Magda-of-the-many-names. I hinted at many more siblings and gave them all powerful fathers.
The unfortunate victim of this first book is EG’s father, a senator arrested for killing his aide. For EG, Ana is willing to come out of her virtual assistant cave to find the real murderer.
But my over-achiever characters couldn’t just solve one murder. Oh no, that’s too easy. I had to complicate their lives by giving them a grandfather they’d never met, give them the incentive to hunt him down, and then discover he’s dead. And put a spy in the attic of the grandfather’s house who claims the house belongs to him. Which of course, ticks off our family-oriented Ana, who swears the house belongs to her family since—gee whiz, their grandfather left a will saying it did. Unfortunately, the lawyer who executed the will is now taking an extensive trip to the Caribbean, one step ahead of the law.
And then I blithely sent this complicated masterpiece to my agent expecting her to sell it. Silly me. First, she wanted to know what genre it belonged in.
And there’s the sticking point for authors who write books of their hearts— NY doesn’t have a heart. It has genre niches. And Evil Genius doesn’t fit neatly into any of them.
But I had other contracts to fulfill, and Evil Genius dropped into my bottom drawer. Every so often, I’d try narrowing down the whacky action to fit something resembling a mystery format, although it would never be a cozy in this lifetime. And it certainly wasn’t a thriller.
So after a writer’s conference last fall where everyone discussed digital publishing, I dusted Evil Genius off, decided it was still a fun book, and sent her to Bookviewcafe, an author’s co-op to which I belong. We have experienced editors and production managers just like NY, and we have the ability to produce original fiction. We turned EG into a real book and released it into the market in three months, compared to the years it might have taken circulating to editors and being scheduled into a very tight market.
I’m taking a great deal of pleasure in watching Evil Genius fly off virtual shelves with just the aid of my fellow authors. And I see now why so many writers are going straight to the public. Finally, at last, we have a means of selling books that our readers might enjoy, even if the books don’t fit market niches. It’s a win-win situation for both authors and avid readers—original books direct from us to you at affordable prices. Happy reading!
- Patricia Rice