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 series.
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.