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One Small Sentence

I want to tell you a small part of my experience of writing Angel Thieves. To a certain extent, all of my books feel a bit slippery as they come into being, but this one was like trying to walk a dozen cats on the ends of a dozen leashes. The various story lines kept getting tangled up and twisted. There were moments when I just wanted to toss it all, for sure. And just when I thought I had it in place, it slipped away again.

In fact, the ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) is basically draft #38 out of maybe 52 drafts? (I stopped counting a year ago). Anyways, I made substantial changes to the manuscript after the ARC came out, so if you happen to have one, use it to study and show how a book can change from one draft to another, especially when it comes to the ending.

There are over fifty-thousand words at play here. It took me three years to get those words all arranged in just the right way. And yet . . .

Yet . . .

There was one sentence that just kept eluding me. One critical sentence. Only three words long.

It first occurs on page 83 when my young protagonist Cade has just come face to face with his biological mother for the first time. At six years old, the trauma of it was overwhelming and Cade did the only thing he could think to do—ducked into the bathroom and locked the door.

Minutes later, he hears his dad Paul on the other side of the door, who tells him the best words ever: “I’ll always be right here.” Of course, those are perfect words to say to a kid

Angel Thieves, Part 2–Achsah

So, I take setting extremely seriously. Those who have read my other novels, know that I reply upon the setting to help inform the work. So, when I set out to write this new novel, I knew that it would take place in Houston, and also that, for the most part, the events of the story would occur along the shores of the Buffalo Bayou, which serves as the arterial heartbeat of the city.

But just because I grew up in Houston didn’t mean that I knew all that much about it. It’s funny, isn’t it, that we tend to overlook our own habitations when it comes to discovering their histories. At least that’s been my experience. So, the first thing I did was begin studying the bayou. Luckily, there’s a person who has spent a huge amount of time assembling the history of the bayou itself, and in that history lies the story of Houston. His name is Louis Aulbach. He wrote this amazing book.

Years ago—who knows how many—I stumbled across a small post on-line that Mr. Aulbach had written about the story of a woman named Sylvia Routh, who lived in Houston in the early years of the Republic of Texas—pre-Civil War. She was enslaved and brought to Galveston by a ship’s captain, John Routh. Together they had six children, and upon his death, her freed her, and also gave her a large tract of property in what is now downtown Houston. The history of Sylvia Routh is still murky at best. There is some evidence that she built a brick-lined basement underneath her home, which was situated along a deep gulley, and that

Angel Thieves, Part One

Greetings!

Welcome to my new blog, “What the Cat Dragged In.” It’s been a very long time—7 years to be exact—since my last blog entry. That feels like a lifetime ago. But with the launch of this new novel, the time seemed right. Plus, there’s so much I want you to know about this story and how I came to write it. So, why not join me and the cat crew? There’s a cozy place on the sofa, just for you. And we promise not to take up too much of your time.

Ta-da!

This book took me a full three years to get it to its final incarnation, and honestly, if I had another week, I’d probably tweak it again. My editor, the wondrous Caitlyn Dlouhy, basically had to rip it out of my grubby little hands. “Kathi, seriously, we have to send it to the printer NOW!” Alas!

Some history: The first draft came fast. I got it all down in about six weeks, which is something of a record for me. I’m normally a fairly slow writer. You could say that it was the proverbial shitty first draft. There was nothing lovely or magical or enchanting about it whatsoever. What it had going for it was “possibility.” And you’re probably thinking, really? Six weeks? Okay, true confessions: there were a couple of intertwined ideas that I had been mulling over for years, and in that initial burst of writing, those two ideas just kept eating at me.

The first came to me as a question—what does it look like to have the kind of faith that you would risk everything, including your life, and the life of