I love hearing from my favorite authors about where their books came from, the stories of when the idea for the book came to them in a flash, or the long, laborious process by which they knitted together seemingly disparate plot threads and themes to form a coherent whole. I thought it would be fun to share with you a bit of the origin story of A Distant Grave.
In 2019, I spent about a week in West Cork, Ireland researching the follow-up to The Mountains Wild. The trip was fantastic. I stayed in Clonakilty for a few days and in Glengarriff for another few and from these two home-bases, I explored the peninsulas, towns, and villages of this most bewitching region of the country. It was the off-season, so I was able to experience it the way residents do, without traffic and with views uncluttered by my fellow tourists to the sea and the mountains. I got everything I needed for the book and went home to start writing.
I knew I had a good story — and a good investigation — for my main character, Maggie, but as I worked on the draft, a little voice inside my head kept saying, She wouldn't just leave Long Island. She wouldn't do it without a really good reason. Maggie is a homicide detective. It's who she is. Other than her daughter, her job is the most important thing in the world to her.
I realized that the book I thought was the second book in the series was actually the third book in the series and that in between, I needed to show Maggie in her element as a detective and in her community on Long Island. I knew that something monumental needed to happen to prompt Maggie to leave Long Island and I wanted to show her at the height of her powers, solving a case that seemed impossible to solve. A Distant Grave is about that monumental thing. When an unidentified murder victim is found in a wealthy beach community, Maggie starts to peel away the layers of his identity, his work, and the secrets that led to his murder.
I'm glad I listened to that little voice and I'm so excited for you all to read Maggie's third (formerly second!) adventure, set in West Cork, which will be out next year.
Brow Head, West Cork
The Beara Peninsula, West Cork
Shanacashel, West Cork, birthplace of my great-great grandfather