A Long Journey To Publication For A Story About Immortal Love

Guest Blogger: Alma Katsu

Even though my first novel, THE TAKER, wasn’t published until last year, I’ve been writing on and off my entire life. However, my career in intelligence (yes, I worked for CIA) made it hard to pursue publication and I stopped writing for a long time. Then about 12 years ago, I became seriously ill and decided that if there was only one thing I’d do with my life, I wanted to try to write fiction. Once my illness was under control, I threw myself into writing, went to graduate school, and poured ten years intoTHE TAKER. I didn’t expect to be published, given how hard it is to break into book publishing, and was surprised when it did, but it just goes to show that you never know what can happen if you try.

My inspiration for the trilogy came 30 years ago, when I got the idea for a short story about a man who is made immortal but as a punishment, to atone for his sins against the woman who loved him. I thought about the characters on and off for many years while I was not writing, but when I decided to return to fiction, I knew this was the story I wanted to write. At the time, literary agents told me there was no audience for stories that combined history and love with the supernatural: the world didn’t need another Anne Rice, they said. They are eating those words now, as we see the book marketplace filled with every permutation imaginable on the supernatural and metaphysical.

That short story was the origin of my first novel, THE TAKER. The story morphed and shifted in the decades it took to write, but the essentials are still there: old New England, the supernatural, heartache and longing, and a love so strong that it transcends time. The story flipped somewhat and the protagonist is now a woman and not a man, and her sin also involves betraying someone she loves and she, too, is given eternity in order to make amends for what she’s done. I wanted THE TAKER to be the kind of story that would grab readers and not let go, with characters that would haunt you for days after you finish reading. It was a tall order, but I’m gratified to say that this is what I’ve been hearing from readers.

In THE RECKONING, which just came out, we see Lanny, the heroine, trying to atone for her past sin. She’s living with a new love, the man who helped her in THE TAKER, hoping to put the past behind her. But just when she has taken the first steps toward her new life, the villain Adair escapes from the prison in which Lanny had trapped him. Lanny knows he will come for her, looking for revenge. She must leave behind everyone she loves to go on the run and try to figure out how to stop the unstoppable.

You’re probably wondering if you need to read THE TAKER in order to enjoy THE RECKONING. Reviewers have jumped in with the second book with no trouble and, as a matter of fact, that story is meant to be a little like the movie MEMENTO: it’s a bit of a twisty puzzle, with the mystery unfolding whether you read it forwards or backwards.

Alma Katsu is the author of THE TAKER and THE RECKONING, the first two books in a supernatural trilogy about love and loss that spans centuries. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and our two whippets. THE TAKER has been published in English worldwide, and translation rights have been sold to ten countries. THE TAKER was also picked by Booklist/American Library Association as one of the top ten debut novels of last year. You can find out more about her novels at http://www.almakatsu.com.



  1. I loved hearing how Alma’s story has been knocking about in her head for 30 years and now its a highly-praised reality. Something to be said about not giving up as a writer, and believing in your tale even if a cross genre mix that is not the norm. Bravo! I have read the beginning of The Taker and it grabbed me like few books have, I look forward to finishing it. Much success to you Alma!

  2. Alma, thanks for baring a little more of your soul with each article, pretty soon you will have no secrets, but then you know you can trust the internet to keep them :), it’s a great story and thanks for sharing.
    I especially agree with the stories standing on their own, I read The Reckoning but then I immediately went to get The Taker, because I wanted to know where they came from. All I can say is WOW, your writing is like no other author and it’s not fair to you to compare you. Your storyline, characters and narrative are unique, impressive, emotional and explosive. And I’m glad that I got to know the stories and can’t wait to finish the trilogy

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