County native discusses challenges of releasing new book
It’s been an interesting summer for New York Times bestselling author Wendy Corsi Staub.
Normally, the author is traveling the country on a book tour to share her latest release, which was the case last summer when she visited Silver Creek’s Anderson Lee Library to share book two of her Foundlings Trilogy. “Usually, I’m home two weekends all summer,” Staub told the OBSERVER in a phone interview on Monday. “But not this year.”
As she spoke with the OBSERVER from her home in Westchester County, Staub was picking up branches from the tree that fell on her deck last week — a parting gift from Tropical Storm Isaias. “I’m so excited to have internet again, which isn’t the case for a lot of my neighbors,” she said. The Dunkirk native admitted that as a professional writer for over 30 years, “I’m used to writing through adversity and challenges,” but she never imagined writing through a global pandemic.
On Tuesday, Aug. 25, “The Butcher’s Daughter,” which is the third book in Staub’s Foundlings trilogy, will be on sale. Originally, Staub planned to visit Lily Dale as part of her book tour, which always includes a leg in Chautauqua County. “It’s been complicated,” she said. “I had so many events lined up from spring through fall, and all the in-person ones were canceled. The logistics of trying to release a book without it is a challenge.”
Although Staub is accustomed to working and writing from home, her life is certainly not unaffected by the pandemic. Staub’s husband, who sells advertising for Regal Cinemas, began working from home right away, as Westchester County’s coronavirus “patient zero” worked in his office building. Her younger son, a senior at Ithaca College, returned home to complete his semester, and her older son began telecommuting to his office from their home. “It disrupted my usual writing routine for sure,” said Staub. “Suddenly everyone’s home for three meals a day.”
Like many of her readers, Staub has been devouring books throughout the last several months, particularly in audio format. She’s excited to share that Hillary Huber, the narrator for the first two books in the Foundlings Trilogy, will narrate “The Butcher’s Daughter.”
The third and final book picks up in 2017 with Amelia Crenshaw, who is now foremost in her field of investigative genealogy. NYPD Detective Stockton Barnes also returns in the third book, and each character has an important goal. Amelia plans to embark on the ultimate investigation — to discover the identity of her birth parents — and Stockton wants to find and protect the child he gave up for her own good. Their paths intertwine with Gypsy Colt, daughter of one of the most reprehensible serial killers of all time, who “has a lethal score to settle,” but a challenging journey of her own that readers will discover.
“I think we’ve seen Amelia grow up,” Staub reflected. “Stockton is also very flawed, and we see him evolve from book to book. There’s no easy answer, no easy path, no right way. People close to me are adopted, and some want to find their parents and some don’t, like Amelia’s friend Jessie (who returns in “The Butcher’s Daughter“). It was an emotional story for me; I cried through a lot of scenes that were difficult to write.”
Staub has remained productive throughout the pandemic, for not only did “The Butcher’s Daughter” print on schedule, but she also sold a brand-new book to HarperCollins on Friday. She explained, “The title is still in the works, but it’s a stand-alone book. It’s a larger format trade paperback. It’s dark but not graphic–it’ll have what my readers expect but this one has the biggest plot twist I’ve ever pulled off.”
The idea for the book came about during the early months of the pandemic. When her younger son returned home from college in March, Staub mulled over the idea with him. She told the OBSERVER, “He asked me, ‘What if you did x, y, and z?’ I didn’t think I could make it work! I wrote a couple chapters and it was read by three editors at HarperCollins. They said, ‘What if you did this?’ A blind side! I was so thrilled they bought the book.”
Staub is eager to get back to writing, as she’s had no power all week and been relying on a generator. “If I deliver it, it will come out about this same time next year: summer into early fall with HarperCollins,” she explained. “That’s their goal and my goal. It’s tough because everyone at HarperCollins is working from home, too, and I’ve been fortunate that production has been on time for ‘The Butcher’s Daughter.'”
Staub pointed out that this isn’t the case for many of her author friends, who have been similarly challenged to release a new book during the pandemic. “Bookstores are closed, libraries are closed, yet people are reading more than ever,” Staub pointed out. “They’re managing to get books…we’re really craving the escape of reading. I always believe in publishing, and it always seems to bounce back. People always want to read, and there will always be ways to get books,” she said optimistically. “We’re all readers, and we believe in this.”
Fans of Staub can look forward to two more books that will be released over the next two years. “I’ve sold two new Lily Dale books to a British publisher, who prints here in the U.S.,” said Staub. “It’s tough because right after I sold the books, the editor was furloughed!” She hopes the first book will be out next summer, with the second book printing the following year. “It’s a really fun story,” she explained. “It’s a traditional mystery, with a murder. Pandora Feeney plays a big role; all the same characters are back.”
Will the pandemic make its way into Staub’s new books? “My new one for HarperCollins is set in New York,” she explained. “Would it be unrealistic to have kids going off to school or people taking the subway? Do I address that? My fictional world is going to stay fictional for now.”
“The Butcher’s Daughter” is available for pre-order on harpercollins.com. Follow Wendy Corsi Staub on Facebook for details on her Facebook live event with Murder by the Book in Houston, as well as a signing event at the Golden Notebook in Woodstock. “I’ll be trying to do stock signing there and then the books can ship,” said Staub. “I’ll eventually come to my hometown and sign the way I used to. That’s my priority as soon as it’s safe to travel!” To learn more about Staub and her work, visit wendycorsistaub.com.