Thursday, June 26, 2014

Witness Impulse

by Nancy Allen

I’m a Witness Impulse author. I still get a surge of pride each time I say so. Witness released my debut novel, The Code of the Hills, as an e-book on April 15 of this year, and the paperback release followed on May 20; so at this point, I’ve had some time to espouse my association with the HarperCollins imprint. But “the new” hasn’t worn off yet (as we say in the Ozarks); and it’s still hard to believe my good fortune. When I signed with Witness, I landed in a fabulous environment.

My novel is a legal thriller set in the Missouri Ozarks, following the struggles of a young prosecutor as she fights to convict a man charged with the crime of incest. It was my first novel, and I wanted what all authors want: to see it published, to hold it in my hands, and to have my story reach as wide an audience as possible. Witness made all of my hopes for the book a reality.

My literary agent, Jill Marr with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary
Agency (a veritable angel with wings—but that’s another story), submitted it to Trish Daly, an editor at HarperCollins who was part of Witness, HC’s new mystery and suspense imprint. Trish loved the book, and had a feel for the characters and the setting, and an understanding of the themes, that blew me away. When Trish and I went to work on editorial changes, it was a pleasure, the most satisfying artistic collaboration you can imagine. We shared a vision.

Witness also provides publicity and marketing support. My publicist is Andrea Hackett; she sent out press releases, arranged national radio interviews, and set up a blog tour. But I wanted to be a part of the process; and as a team effort, we obtained book reviews in major Midwestern publications, local TV, a spot on NPR Morning Edition, and a piece in the Village Voice. Our marketing director will be doing retail promotions for The Code of the Hills this summer. All of this assistance has been golden; Witness has empowered me and my novel in ways I could never have achieved if I was going at it on my own.

In a recent visit to New York, I had the chance to meet these women face to face: my editor Trish, my publicist Andrea, the Marketing Magnate, Dana Trombley, and our editorial manager, Emily Krump. And though it was a bit daunting for a gray-haired hillbilly like me to encounter all that big-city flash and dash, they were just as nice as pie, and made me feel like one of the family. So: If I had it to do all over again, would I pick Witness Impulse as the home for my debut novel—my baby? Oh hell yeah. In a New York minute.

To uncover the truth, she'll have to break the code of the hills … In the Missouri Ozarks, some things aren't talked about … even abuse. But prosecutor Elsie Arnold is determined to change that. When she is assigned to prosecute a high-profile incest case in which a father is accused of abusing his three young daughters, Elsie is ready to become the Ozarks' avenging angel. But as Elsie sinks her teeth into the case, everything begins to turn sour. The star witness goes missing; the girls refuse to talk about their father, who terrorizes the courtroom from the moment he enters; and Elsie begins to suspect that their tough-as-nails mother has ulterior motives. To make matters worse, Elsie receives gruesome threats from local extremists, warning her to mind her own business. While Elsie swears not to let a sex offender walk, she realizes the odds—and maybe the town—are against her, and her life begins to crumble. But amidst all of the conflict, the safety of three young girls hangs in the balance ... A powerful debut, with the haunting atmosphere of Winter's Bone and the page-turning suspense of Alafair Burke's thrillers. 

Nancy Allen practiced law for 15 years as Assistant Missouri Attorney General and Assistant Prosecutor in her native Ozarks. She’s tried over 30 jury cases, including murder and sexual offenses, and is now a law instructor at Missouri State University. The Code of the Hills is her first novel.


Kristi said...

So great to read this, Nancy. I think as two debut authors on Witness, we MUST become friends! : ) Are you going to Bouchercon? Would love to connect. I feel the same way as you, could not be more thrilled with the team I'm working with.

Unknown said...

Kristi, yes--I'll be at Bouchercon! I'll keep an eye out, because I'll be delighted to get to meet you face to face. And we are agreed: Witness is fabulous. See you in sunny California!