NAKED ADDICTION started off as a short story, inspired by a news article I wrote when I was the Northampton City Hall reporter for the Springfield Union-News in Massachusetts about 25 years ago.
A young woman, who was an old friend of my then-boyfriend, was murdered in New York City and he took me to her wake. That true crime story worked as a creative catalyst for me to create the character of the first murder victim, Tania Marcus, who, by the way, is in no way based on the young murder victim I wrote about in the newspaper. For that matter, no character in this book is modeled on a real person.
At the time I had about four years of newspaper experience, only a few years more than my cub reporter character, Norman Klein, who was nicknamed Inky throughout my earlier drafts because of the newsprint ink smudged on his face. The plot built from there in a year of Sunday writing workshops. In fact Tania’s journal entries came right out of those sessions.
As I churned out two to four news stories a day I yearned for a creative outlet and was homesick for La Jolla. And out came my surfing protagonist, Detective Ken Goode. In the opening scene of the book, Goode is paying a tribute to his mother, who committed suicide by jumping off the Coronado Bridge when he was just six years old.
After writing more than 2,000 news stories during my nearly 20-year career as a daily newspaper reporter, I’d forgotten some of these details until I dug up my original author’s note for this book for the re-release of this book in November 2014.
Even though I spent much of my journalism career covering government and politics, I’ve always been interested in stories about bizarre deaths, the psychology of the criminal mind, addiction, murders, and suicide. Those interests have continued for me as the New York Times bestselling author of nine books, including a tenth that I’m working on now about the Steven DeMocker case in Prescott, Arizona.
I’ve been drawn to stories involving addiction not only because I’ve dealt with those issues in my own family, but also because it’s such a devastating problem in our society. Ironically, I conceived of this plot years before I met my late husband, who turned out to be an alcoholic and ultimately committed suicide in 1999. When I was still working to get this book published in the early 2000s, I wondered if I had a strange power to foresee the future.
Getting this novel into print was not just a goal, it was my dream. I rewrote it countless times, trying to please workshop critique groups, agents, and even an editor who read two versions before I signed with an agent. I was working as a professional writer then, but was still an aspiring and yet unpublished author.
Journalism is a good training ground for the kind of rejection you get as a wannabe author, because when one door closes, you go knock on another one. I wanted nothing more than to get a book published, and I was determined to do so.
As the years went by, I began to worry that this venture was turning into a vanity exercise, so I’d often put the manuscript in a drawer for a while, then send it out again. I would wait for a response, and just when I thought I was getting somewhere, I got another rejection.
But time after time, I managed to pick myself off the curb and persist, taking heed of any word of encouragement or positive sign that I should keep going. Sometimes it had nothing to do with me or my writing; it was just part of the learning curve as I tried to navigate a constantly evolving publishing landscape. Circumstances, and even natural disasters such as 9/11, impeded my efforts. The nagging question was how to break in.
Ultimately, I decided to try writing a non-fiction book to see if I had any better luck, and that turned out to be the way to go. My first book, POISONED LOVE, which was published in 2005, was a work of narrative non-fiction, combining the fiction-writing skills I’d learned through many years of weekends working on my craft with the investigative reporting skills I’d honed as a weekday Metro reporter for daily newspapers.
I will always be grateful to bestselling crime author Michael Connelly, who gave me a critique of this book and helped me improve it enough to get it published. With his critique, the nice blurb he gave me, and two non-fiction books under my belt, I was finally able to get this baby published in 2007. It only took 17 years.
Here is the Connelly blurb: “With a journalist’s eye for the telling details of life, Caitlin Rother is a keen architect of the most important part of storytelling: character. The people in her prose grip you tightly with their truth.”
And now here we are again, six books and seven years of sheer determination later, trying again with a revised and updated edition. For me, persistence and rebounding from rejection have always been the keys to getting—and staying—published.