I published the first installment of Kings of Brighton Beach in
January, 2014. I was so thrilled and excited. Like many new
authors, I was sure my baby was going to be an overnight
success. Little did I know, I was doing everything wrong. Three installments in,
it became clear that the series was going nowhere fast. The
complexity of the story made it nearly impossible to keep up
with the ambitious schedule I had initially planned, and I had
more friends on Facebook than I did book sales.
In 2016, my friend Kris convinced her book club to read the
first installment, and most of the members ended up finishing
all three episodes of Kings of Brighton Beach. They talked with
me for a full three hours about the story and the characters,
and their love and enthusiasm for the saga I had created was a
much-need shot in the arm. I was deep into the next three
episodes, which I intended to release together later that year.
I fixated on the question of what was wrong with my writing and
with the series. Part of the problem, I decided, was that my
large cast of characters and the intricacy of my plotting had
outgrown the short serial format; I needed to think in terms of
novels—or a TV series.
In 2017, I received the marvelous gift of a sabbatical from my
college. I used the year to pull myself together and, with some
critical intervention from Kris and the Deer Park Moms Book
Club, to reboot my writing. She told me the book club was
waiting eagerly for my next book. I tricked my brain into
cooperating. I asked myself, “What would I do with the series if
I believed I was a good writer and that the series was
destined—eventually—to be a success?”
My characters had a rich backstory that was central to the story
I wanted to tell, but I was finding it increasingly difficult to
weave that history into what was already a sprawling tale. I
decided to start the story at the beginning, not in Brooklyn in
2013, but in Cold War Moscow in 1985. I mapped out the tale and
set out to finish my new novel over my year away from the
university. But I was wrong once again. Four hundred pages in, I
had barely scratched the surface of the story I needed to tell.
It turned out I didn’t need one novel, I needed a whole dang
In 2018,I published To Catch a Traitor as the first in
the four-book Sins of a Spy series.
In the summer of 2018, the Deer Park Moms Book Club forgave me
for giving them a prequel instead of a sequel. It might not have
hurt that the novel was dedicated to them, but they loved this
installment, too. And they blew my mind by remembering the
characters and events from Kings of Brighton Beach and by
becoming (almost) as excited as I was about the connections
between the historical and present-day stories.
I committed to finishing what I started with Kings of Brighton
Beach, even though I convinced myself the Deer Park Moms might
be the only ones who would care. Turns out, I was wrong about
that, too. I am so grateful for all of the readers who have
found and fallen in love with this thrilling family saga. Stay
tuned. The best is yet to come.