One of the reasons I fell in love with book publishing was the experience – which I have been fortunate enough to have several times – of becoming involved with a hugely talented writer at the beginning of that writer’s career and seeing the writer grow to stardom. That’s the first thing that makes today’s publication of Tanya Anne Crosby’s novel The Girl Who Stayed so special. Back when I was Publisher of Avon I was able to witness the intense excitement surrounding the publication of Tanya’s first historical romance. The editor, and in fact the entire romance team, were enormously excited about this novel and they made sure that everyone in the organization knew about it. It was clear very quickly that Tanya Anne Crosby was going to be special – readers were as smitten with her as our staff was – and within a few books, she was hitting the New York Times bestseller list.
I got to meet Tanya not long after we started publishing her. I was already a fan of her writing, and I quickly became a fan of the person. That’s another reason that the release of The Girl Who Stayed is so special to me: it marks the publication of an author I admire in so many ways. Tanya exudes a combination of warmth and savvy that I’ve rarely seen; it’s impossible to avoid getting caught up in her passion for what she’s doing.
Eventually, I was no longer at Avon, and Tanya wound up taking a long break from writing. We communicated a couple of times, but we were on different tracks. Then, in my role as President-Elect of Novelists Inc., I put out a call for original works of short fiction for an anthology I was editing for the organization. Tanya reached out to tell me that she had an idea for a contemporary novella.
“Contemporary?” I said.
“Yeah, I’ve wanted to write a contemporary for a long time.”
I was intrigued and of course told her that I would be delighted to have a contemporary piece from her in the anthology. I was sure it would be good; I’d never read anything of Tanya’s that wasn’t good. But when the novella, Lady’s Man, arrived, I realized I hadn’t set my expectations nearly high enough.
“Tanya, this is fantastic,” I said the next time we spoke. “You should be doing this regularly.”
She responded very modestly, but my guess is that she knew how good the novella was. And more to the point, she knew how comfortable she was writing contemporary fiction.
Tanya went on to publish two contemporary suspense novels and she continued publishing historicals, all of which did tremendously well. But we’d spoken a few more times on the phone and gotten together at Novelists Inc. conferences, and I knew she was thinking about doing something new. What I didn’t realize was who she was planning to do it with.
Fast forward to the 2014 Novelists Inc. conference in St. Pete. Tanya, her husband Scott, and I were having a drink and catching up. Scott and I were talking about music (he’s a real musician and I play one in my dreams) and Tanya had gotten quiet. When we turned to look at her, she simply said, “I think I have an idea for a contemporary novel.”
“That’s great,” I said. “You’ll be brilliant at it. Can you tell me about it?”
“Well, I need to tell you about it, because I’d like to do it with The Story Plant.”
I truly wasn’t expecting that. Not only was Tanya a writer any Big Five publisher would love to work with, but she’d also become an expert indie publisher in her own right. It was my turn to respond modestly, though I was already drafting the press release in my head.
Tanya told me her idea for the novel and the next morning e-mailed me a brief prologue. This was going to be the most ambitious thing she’d ever done, which is saying something, and it was going to cause her to address issues she’d never addressed before. I couldn’t have possibly been more excited about publishing a novel.
Now, eighteen months later, that novel – The Girl Who Stayed – has just been published by The Story Plant. I am enormously proud to be its publisher and especially thrilled that it is the product of a relationship that goes back nearly two decades. This is why I love the book business.