In less than a week, my 15th book — This Morbid Life — will be out from Automatism Press. It’s had quite a journey to publication, so seeing it in print finally is extra sweet.
Early in 2008, I submitted a proposal for a “best of” book that would collect some of my favorite essays from the confessional magazine I’d edited for 10 years. Morbid Curiosity Cures the Blues attracted the second agent I sent it to, a young woman who’d just been promoted to full-time agent. She sold the book at auction to Scribner. It was only the second book she sold.
We had long conversations about my career. She wanted to represent both my fiction and nonfiction. I was excited to have my foot in the door of New York publishing.
Over the next several years, I pitched seven books to her. Among them were Wish You Were Here, the first two space opera books, Lost Angels, the first Alondra novel, and two books of essays. When she wasn’t able to place any of them, it was devastating for me to realize that the agency that had originally staked its claim on edgy, exciting books had moved into selling celebrity cookbooks. We weren’t compatible any longer.
I started to sell my books without an agent’s help. Lost Angels was published in 2012 by Black Bed Sheet Books. Wish You Were Here was published by Western Legends in 2013.
A small ebook publisher approached me early in 2013. I sent them the initial manuscript for This Morbid Life. The acquiring editor really liked it. We signed a contract in May. I started to get excited about the possibilities ahead of my punk-rock, death-positive memoir…
And then nothing happened. The book never got scheduled for production or even placed on the publisher’s list of upcoming books. By August of 2014, the editor admitted there were still no plans to publish it any time soon. Maybe I should have been more patient, but I withdrew the book from the publisher. Before I could figure out what to do next, my space opera novels sold (as a trilogy) to Night Shade Books. The next year was consumed with writing, publishing, and promoting those books.
It’s been a whirlwind ever since. Black Dog & Leventhal approached me to write 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die. I updated Wish You Were Here and published a second edition. I finished Angelus Rose, the sequel to Lost Angels, which came out last year, just before San Francisco was shut down in March.
Faced with having to entertain myself last year, I assembled Unsafe Words. I found another agent, then had two cemetery book proposals fall through last year. Emerian and I created the Spooky Writer’s Planner.
If nothing else, the isolation during the pandemic has given me a lot of time to think. It feels weird to have all these husks of books behind me: the Alondra novels, four or five unfinished cemetery projects, several books of essays. I don’t know if I would have chosen This Morbid Life as the next book to focus on, but once I bought Lynne Hansen’s cover last fall, I knew I had to put together a book to do it justice.
This iteration of This Morbid Life is one-third bigger than the last version. Both books started with the same essay — taking prom pictures in the cemeteries of Flint, Michigan — but the earlier book ended with taking my infant daughter to see the Body Worlds exhibit in 2004. This version includes morbid adventures up through Fire Season last year.
This Morbid Life got its first review already. The Bookeyman said, “I was blown away by the vulnerability and just how Loren laid everything out with no holding back. I loved this so much. What a fantastic life and what a beautiful love letter to her friends. I’m absolutely astonished. Everyone needs to read this ASAP.”
And then he gave the book 5 coffins. I cannot imagine higher praise.
You can check the book out for yourself at Amazon: https://amzn.to/3AHBedT
The Goodreads giveaway is running for a few more days, if you’d like a chance to win an ebook copy of the book: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/329876-this-morbid-life