The Secret Sisters was my fifth book, originally pubbed in hardcover by HarperCollins in 2005 and now available on Kindle with added bonus content, including reading recommendations from my own fabulous sisters. It's a bit of a departure from my previous work. I've always been a happy and optimistic person by nature - and I still am - but this novel definitely leans more toward tragedy than comedy. It's darker, more erotic, and more message-driven than anything else I've ever written.
An agoraphobic (Pia) is taken by a con artist. A party girl (Lily) goes to jail for vehicular homicide. A bereaved mother (Beth) is forced to confront the fact that her cherubic child was actually a little pain in the patootie. Each of the sisters has constructed a private prison for herself. They each serve hard time searching for redemption.
My prime directive is always to tell a great story, but deeply saddened by what I saw happening in the world after 9-11, I wanted to tell a deeper, more thought-provoking tale. Pia's story is a parable about what we sacrifice when we embrace fear as a lifestyle. It's about the art of manipulation, the craft of seduction, and the blissful but dangerous state of denial, but this book is also about empowerment and accountability.
Every character in every novel I write is on a quest for peace, and I'm humbly grateful to all the readers who've opened their hearts and minds, engaged the page, and journeyed with me. This book taught me not to take that good will for granted. A lot of people found The Secret Sisters offensive, partly because of the lefty politics, but more because of the graphic sexual content. (Note to self: When using sex as a metaphor, prepare to be horsewhipped, and refer to this post on sex as a literary device. And when feeling low, refer to this lovely review from Armchair Interviews.)
My original title for this book was The Prodigal Wife. I wish I'd been stronger when pressured to change it. Or maybe I should have gone with Gary's title suggestion: The Dirty Dirty Dildo Sex Book. A lot of people couldn't see any further than that. And knowing what I now know as a writer, I understand why. The book says exactly what I wanted to say, but it made a lot of people uncomfortable. (Personally, I'm uncomfortable with unnecessary wars and the torture of illegally held prisoners. Guess we all have our little hangups, huh.)
Do I regret it? No. Would I do it again? Given the chance, absolutely. But in the publishing industry, you don't always get another chance. That was a tough lesson to learn.