Dear friends, family, colleagues, and readers,

This marks the first of my quarterly newsletters (or so the resolution goes). I’ll be using these notes to keep you informed of publications, events, and other writing news. In each letter, I will also include a new short piece of writing or an excerpt from something longer. 

I’m no longer on Facebook or Twitter, though you can still find me on Instagram (@virginia.reeves). These newsletters will be my main venue for communication.

Please know that I will never share your email address or use it for any other purpose, and if you ever want to unsubscribe, you’re welcome to follow the link at the bottom of the page. Likewise, if you want to share these newsletters, please forward them on and encourage folks to sign-up under the “Contact” tab on my website: virginia-reeves.com.

The Latest News

The most exciting news on the horizon is the upcoming publication of my second novel, The Behavior of Love. It will be released from Scribner on May 14, 2019. I will always encourage you to pick up a copy (or two) from your local bookseller, but it’s also available for pre-order on Amazon. Readings and events are in the works, and I will write again with details once they’re finalized. For now, I’m simply excited to get to launch this novel in my hometown of Helena, Montana, where most of the book takes place. 

 

Doctor Ed Malinowski believes he has realized most of his dreams. A passionate, ambitious behavioral psychiatrist, he is now the superintendent of the Boulder River School and Hospital and finally turning the previously crumbling institution around. He also has a home he can be proud of and a fiercely independent, artistic wife, Laura.

But into this perfect vision of his life comes Penelope, a beautiful, young epileptic who should never have been placed in his institution and whose only chance at getting out is Ed. As their relationship grows more complicated, and Laura stubbornly starts working at the hospital, Ed must weigh his professional responsibilities against his personal ones and find a way to save both his job and his family.

A love triangle set in one of the most chaotic, combustible settings imaginable, The Behavior of Love is an incredibly compulsive, poignant exploration of marriage, lust, and ambition.

Other Writing Updates

2018 saw the German publication of Work Like Any Other, and I’m thrilled to announce an upcoming French graphic-novel interpretation due out in late 2019. You can follow the incredible illustrator, Alexandre Widendaele, on Instagram (@alex.w.inker) and see the characters come to life. Here’s a sketch from the courtroom:

© Alexandre Widendaele

© Alexandre Widendaele

2018 also saw the publication of my short story “Bloodlines” in the anthology Pie and Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter & Booze. Edited by Kate Lebo and Samuel Ligon, the book is a great collection of writing about pie, whiskey, or both. It includes work by Anthony Doerr, Steve Almond, and Elissa Washuta, among others, plus original pie and cocktail recipes. It’s out from Sasquatch Books and available just about everywhere books are sold.

And Something New

Inspired by the terrible fires we’ve seen lately, I’ve started working on a piece I’m calling “Love in the Fire Season.” I have no idea where it will go—whether it will be a short story or a novel or something else entirely—but here’s an excerpt:

In the beginning, they were separate fires, and we called them by name: Howe Ridge, Whale Butte, Sterling, Paola, Gold Hill. They clouded the air with their smoke and caused evacuations across the park. They blew up when the winds shifted and rained ash on campgrounds. They stole a few structures—private cabins grandfathered in from times before the park, a couple historic chalets, a lookout, a ranger station. They were bastards, and we spoke ill of them after our shifts, but they were bastards we’d met before. They followed their predecessors’ paths. They were devils we knew.

We were park employees, not firefighters. Waiters, cooks, housekeepers, attendants, clerks, tour guides. We talked about the fires in terms of lost tips and quiet dining rooms and half-full, open-topped antique red buses. 

“Howe Ridge owes me fifty bucks.”

“Gold Hill better be willing to make up my lost wages come the end of the season. The sonofabitch.”

“Whale Butte better drown itself soon, or I’m not going to have the money to get back home.”

We were seasonal employees. Students and ski bums and retired teachers, artists and writers and musicians, international twenty-somethings seeing the world. During the school year, Seth was pursuing his PhD in music composition at Princeton. In the summer, he was a bartender. Katarina was studying literature at Novosibirsk State University and using her summers to explore America. Glacier was her third park in the same number of years. Her English was exquisite, and she worked as a housekeeper. Philip was a retired biology teacher who drove one of the red tour buses. Amelia spent her winters in Boulder, Colorado, where she was a ski instructor. She waited tables in the dining room at Lake McDonald Lodge during the summers and was particularly angry with Howe Ridge after it consumed the privately owned home her summer lover had been renting. He’d been in the first group of evacuees.

“Howe Ridge owes me money and sex now,” Amelia complained. “It’s gotten personal.”

We were frustrated, but we weren’t surprised. Fire season had been a sub-season of summer since I was a baby hiking into the park on my mother’s lean back. We made our reservations in late July—late enough to avoid the snow, early enough to avoid the fires. We canceled our park trips only twice in my childhood, and once I became an employee, I came regardless of conditions.

Ours weren’t the only fires that season, and that was common, too. California was burning as often as we were, Washington and Oregon close behind in the running tallies of acres consumed. Around the same time Howe Ridge started gaining momentum, a series of lightning strikes set off five big blazes in Idaho. Wyoming reported a handful. The mountains around Boulder, Colorado were dry as tinder boxes and due to ignite any day. We learned this from the few of us that followed the news. 

“Northern California is a mess of fires,” Philip reported.

“And there’s one in the Olympic Peninsula that’s taking off fast,” Seth countered. “So much for rainforests.”

“Stanley, Idaho was evacuated yesterday.”

“There are fires across British Columbia and Alberta.”

Diego reported on the fires along the Pacific edge of Mexico. The coastline remained mostly intact, but the droughts of the past several years had diminished the rainforests, and there were fires from Sonora all the way to Chiapas. Diego’s family had been evacuated from their well-to-do home in Oaxaca and were living with his aunt in Austin. 

“The hill country’s next,” Philip warned. “Everyone’s predicting it.”

“Shut up, Philip. Let the boy think his family’s safe for the time being.”

“Don’t call me a boy.”

Diego was from (he swore) uncorrupt Mexican wealth that provided him with a private US prep school education and national park work visas with little effort. He was eighteen, but had yet to lose his baby face. We all thought of him as a boy. 

We commiserated with our counterparts—many of us had friends out there in the other wilds. A boy named Tanner sent me weekly photos from the fire tower he was stationed in outside Spokane. We’d spent the previous summer in bed together and left for our respective falls on friendly terms. He sent mostly night-time photos, orange-red horizons against black hills and skeleton trees. Seth showed us photos from a friend in Yosemite—blazing ridges—and her message, “Lodge closed as of this morning. Summer ends early. Hope you have better luck up north.” 

We knew the continent was full of fires, but we didn’t think to be concerned. They were individual fires, working alone, and we’d dealt with them successfully enough before.
— Virginia Reeves, 2019

And that’s it for now. Look for another newsletter in early April, and please feel free to reach out anytime before then. Happy New Year!

All best,

Virginia