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Her Own Devices, a novel

Notes on Unfinished Business

Her Own Devices is a work in progress that’s been shape-shifting through various revisions since mid 2019. Although it derives from Turkey Shoot and features some of its characters and locales, it travels on quite a different tack. For the story behind the story, continue reading. If you’re into it for the action, check out the sneak preview and sample the text at the Excerpts page.

Turkey Shoot‘s femme fatale takes the lead In a sequel that’s more women’s crime fiction than international conspiracy thriller. The harrowing events of four years ago left her feeling lucky to be alive but with a lot of new and unfinished business on her plate.

“Katrina” was the nom de guerre adopted by Anna Burmeister, a twenty-something Swiss miss who settled in Pireaus, Greece at a time of great economic privation and social unrest. Like other radicals on the scene, she encrypted her name to take part in anti-government actions and community organizing, but since unencrypted it to avoid blowback from those days.

Had she been married to Mahmoud Al Ramadi, the main protagonist of Turkey Shoot, she would be a widow. As things are, she’s a single mom raising their son, and reconciling Mahmoud’s fate is unfinished business for her—and poignantly, for him as well.

What makes it crime fiction is Anna’s obsession to bring certain child traffickers to justice in a legal system she doesn’t trust. To prove her case, she needs to catch them in the act, and to do that she recruits trusted allies and deploys certain devices, all while raising her son and working two jobs.

As I wrote Turkey Shoot I didn’t allow myself to think about a sequel. But when I got to the last chapter I thought, “What if…” and so dropped in some breadcrumbs, just in case. The notion was entirely vague, simply that female lead Katrina would have a son conceived on her lover’s deathbed and perhaps work in social media.I had in mind no plot or even a genre, but at least I had a backstory, locale, and some ready-made characters to get things going.

When I lurched into writing Devices close to a year later, I still had no notion of what it was to come; I just started writing, focusing on character and setting. This is how we “pantsers”* work, one paragraph at a time. One consequence is that events unfold at a leisurely pace. Another is that the backstory unfolds within and next to the plot. To some extent, that structure was deliberate; I wanted the text to have fractal qualities, as I said at the time. As it turned out, it does have a number of, shall I say, self-similarities.

I decided that enjoying Devices should not require familiarity with Turkey Shoot. It shouldn’t matter because I would weave relevant details from the first book into a running motif of Devices, while not giving everything away. (In fact, the new book’s  working title was Recapitulation.) You can pick up Turkey Shoot any time you wish, but you shouldn’t have to to fully appreciate Devices.

If you want to dig into Her Own Devices you might start out with the sneak preview. If that wets your whistle, find four of its 31 chapters previewed by The Write Launch. You’ll find links to them on our Excerpts Page.

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* A Pantser writes novels by the seat of their pants, letting its events unfold the way life does, as opposed to a Plotter, who spells it out in an outline first and then fills in the details.


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