Skip to main content

Simone St. James: On Finishing the Book First

New York Times bestselling author Simone St. James discusses the nonstop learning that happened in writing her new suspense novel, The Book of Cold Cases.

Simone St. James is the New York Times bestselling and award-winning author of The Sun Down Motel, The Broken Girls, Lost Among the Living, and The Haunting of Maddy Clare. She wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school, and spent 20 years behind the scenes in the television business before leaving to write full time. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Simone St. James: On Finishing the Book First

Simone St. James

In this post, Simone discusses the nonstop learning that happened in writing her new suspense novel, The Book of Cold Cases, why it’s important for writers to finish writing the book first, and more!

Name: Simone St. James
Literary agent: Hopkins Literary Associates
Book title: The Book of Cold Cases
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: March 15, 2022
Genre/category: Suspense/paranormal
Previous titles: Lost Among the Living; The Other Side of Midnight; Silence for the Dead; An Inquiry Into Love and Death; The Haunting of Maddy Clare; The Sun Down Motel
Elevator pitch for the book: When a true crime blogger gets a once-in-a-lifetime chance to interview a woman acquitted of being a serial killer, nothing is as it seems.

Simone St. James: On Finishing the Book First

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

What prompted you to write this book?

I wanted to explore crime, true crime, and our ideas of serial killers, all of them from the perspective of women. Also, I like ghost stories.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?

Two years, maybe? I did several drafts before I turned it in to my editor, and two more drafts after that, so the idea changed quite a bit. Mostly I had to hone the idea and get rid of scenes and subplots that didn’t add to it. The book also has three timelines and multiple points of view, so that had to be done right.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?

I think the last two years have been a nonstop learning moment for everyone. I guess my biggest takeaway is that apparently I can turn in a book on time during a pandemic, which was something I didn’t know before.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

If you don’t have any surprises during a two-year writing and editing process, then you aren’t doing it right. I was surprised by the first version of how the book ended, and the second version, too.

Simone St. James: On Finishing the Book First

I was surprised by most of the characters. I was surprised when the plot didn’t turn out to be the one I started with. I was surprised that I finished the book at all, especially during a pandemic. I am always surprised in this business.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

A couple of hours of fun reading during which they forget the world for a while.

If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?

Finish the book! Most of the aspiring writers who ask me questions about publishing haven’t finished anything they could publish. Always finish the book, just to prove you can. Worry about publishing once that part is done.

If you aspire to be a professional writer, you must know the basics of communication. When you take this business writing workshop, you'll develop the skills necessary to survive in the business world as a writer. You will study Wilma Davidson's Business Writing: What Works, What Won't and discover practical advice for writing memos, business letters, reports, and other kinds of business documents. Enroll in Essentials of Business Writing today and get business writing tips that will help you succeed.

If you aspire to be a professional writer, you must know the basics of communication. When you take this business writing workshop, you'll develop the skills necessary to survive in the business world as a writer. You will study Wilma Davidson's Business Writing: What Works, What Won't and discover practical advice for writing memos, business letters, reports, and other kinds of business documents. Enroll in Essentials of Business Writing today and get business writing tips that will help you succeed.

Click to continue.

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Glenn Boozan: On the Funny Side of Parenting

Emmy nominated comedy writer Glenn Boozan discusses how a funny piece of perspective turned into her new humor book, There Are Moms Way Worse Than You.

From Script

Adapting True Crime and True Stories for Television (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, exclusive interviews with writers and showrunners Robert Siegel and D.V. DeVincentis (“Pam & Tommy”), Patrick Macmanus and Liz Hannah (“The Girl from Plainville”) who both have taken creative liberties in adapting true stories for a limited series.

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Chanel Cleeton: On Reader Enthusiasm Conjuring Novel Ideas

Author Chanel Cleeton discusses how reader curiosity led her to write her new historical fiction novel, Our Last Days in Barcelona.

Writer's Digest Interview | Marlon James Quote

The Writer's Digest Interview: Marlon James

Booker Prize–winning author Marlon James talks about mythology and world-building in his character-driven epic Moon Witch, Spider King, the second book in his Dark Star Trilogy in this interview from the March/April 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: New Podcast Episode, a Chance at Publication, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our newest podcast episode, your chance to be published, and more!

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.