Matt Bugatti, the brilliant but troubled protagonist of The Girlfriend Experience, returns in my latest book, Moment of Conception. Matt is living the dream, teaching at a university near his home town of Raleigh, North Carolina, having the satisfaction of guiding his students, the young minds mastering the intricacies of higher mathematics, Matt enjoying the freedom to pursue purely intellectual ends. But events, as always, intervene.
A mysterious epidemic strikes down young girls, their gruesome deaths the object of speculation from every political and ideological quarter, as a wave of abortion clinic bombings terrorizes the nation. The factions stake out their positions: a global drug company, a presidential hopeful, and a brilliant and beautiful political operative, all maneuver to gain an advantage in a game of politics, principles and profit. When the president forms a fact-finding commission to discover the truth, he calls on Matt to lead it. Matt accepts, plunging him into a world of deceit and danger, destroying his most cherished beliefs.
I thought that writing my first book, The Girlfriend Experience, was the hardest thing I’d ever done, like birthing a porcupine at times. Writing Moment of Conception was harder, not because it’s longer, or because the plot twists are less manageable, or the characters more complex, but because, after one novel, I have a better idea of when I’m doing something wrong. Working a problem is always easier if you don’t know the answer—you only have to work it once.
The Girlfriend Experience is a good book, but Moment of Conception is better, because I’m a better writer than I was before, and for that I have many to thank.
My Girlfriend Experience readers have been awesome. Without their encouragement, praise, and criticism, I would not have had the energy or inspiration to write Moment of Conception. Some of them became my alpha readers, patiently combing through rough—I mean really rough—drafts to point out the obvious and not-so-obvious flaws. Thanks especially to Mike and Tim, alpha readers extraordinaire, and to the usual gang of O’Donnells.
I tried something new this time, posting each chapter as it was written on Wattpad and writeon by Kindle, and on my blog, Indie Omnibus. Thanks to the many readers who offered their comments, some good, some bad, but all helpful.
I still rely on the Kindle Community of indie authors for advice, and for answers to my many questions. They are always generous, courteous, and, unfortunately, too numerous to mention.
To Kristin, my editor: Thanks for your many corrections and suggestions, and for your encouragement—this is a better book because of you.
Special thanks to my friend Roberto, whose son, Matteo, is the namesake for my main character. I asked him, and he agreed, to edit the many Italian phrases in the book, but he gave me so much more, explaining nuances of Italian expression, and offering comments on Italian culture. Grazie, Roberto. Ottimo lavoro.
To Andreea, my cover designer: Thanks for conjuring up an image that so perfectly expresses the mood of the book. I love it.
And, of course, unbounded gratitude to Helen, life partner and fellow political junkie.