A Love Letter: A Guest Post by Jennifer Donnelly

You might say that my newest story, Molly’s Letter, is a romance.

But it might be more accurate to call it a love letter.

To my readers.

Who are, after all, one of the great loves of my life.

I’m fortunate to have a passionate readership for many of my books, and particularly for my bestselling Rose books—a family saga that includes The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose and The Wild Rose. And for years, the Rose readership has been pretty vocal (okay…downright demanding!) about their desire for more stories featuring characters from these books.

And I’ve wanted to write them, but the books—set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries—are long…like, 700 pages long. They’re also densely plotted and require a lot of research. Which means they take me two to three years to write. And with other book contracts to be fulfilled, I just haven’t been able to make the time.

But love always finds a way. And I decided that since I couldn’t go long, I’d go short. Instead of a 700-page doorstop, I’d write a 100-page novella. So I went back to my books, started digging and came up with new stories, pulled from my own pages. Each one centers on an episode in a character’s life that might’ve been mentioned in the Rose books but not delved into. Or it might not have been mentioned, and might be entirely new—even to me. Either way, they all fit seamlessly into the overarching Rose plot and leave the arc of the original series unaffected.

I’m calling them Rose Petals—all parts of the larger bouquet that is the Rose Saga.

The first one, Molly’s Letter, follows four familiar names from The Tea Rose—including the heroine, Fiona Finnegan—as they try to find love amongst the ashes of a tragic past.

Rose Petals aren’t traditional books—they are a collection of related but independent stories. I don’t know what all of them are going to be, how many I’m going to do, or how long they’re going to be. And that’s not a model for traditional publishing, so I went indie and started my own (very) small publishing company called Wild Rumpus. (Which, as you may have guessed, was inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are, my favorite picture book.)

Wild Rumpus is now my second job, and it’s a fulltime one, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Ten years ago, I couldn’t have offered Rose Petals to my readers; the self-publishing technology wasn’t there, but it is now, and it gives me an entirely new way to interact with the people who love my work. Reader response to the first book has been glowing and I’m so grateful for that. And traditional publishers have been very kind, too. I’m thrilled to say that Molly’s Letter garnered a three-book audio deal from Recorded Books before it was published, as well as interest from foreign publishers.

Molly’s Letter is a heartfelt thank you to every reader who ever wrote to me, emailed me, or posted a comment to tell me how much they loved the Rose books, and how they wished they could spend more time with those characters. (You can read more about the novella here.)

Ever since I was small, I wanted to be an author. I never dreamed I’d be a publisher.


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