Kit Tolliver #4
It is Kit Tolliver’s oft-repeated role in life to hook up with a suitable male, go home with him, have richly satisfying and often inventive sex with him, and then kill him and take his money. She’d done so in three stories (“If You Can’t Stand the Heat“, set in Hell’s Kitchen, “Rude Awakening,” set in the Bronx, and “You Can Call Me Lucky,” set in an Indian casino in Michigan) and, while I knew her like a sister, I still didn’t know her name or her backstory or why she was doing these terrible things.
Then Gardner Dozois and George R. R. Martin invited me to contribute a story to a cross-genre anthology to be called Warriors, and right away I thought of this enterprising and imaginative young womanl, who seemed to have become my go-to girl for such occasions. By now I’d lived with her long enough to have an intuitive sense of just who she was, and I wound up writing a long and layered story explaining her mission, how she’d come to it, and where it was taking her.
And, at long last, we learned her name.
Several of Warriors’ reviewers singled out “Clean Slate” for special mention, and Harlan Coben chose it for Best American Mystery Stories of 2011. I found it a very satisfying story to write and to have written, and I finished it knowing I’d have a good deal more to say about Kit, even as she’d have a good deal more to accomplish.
“Clean Slate” was a turning point—for both of us. I’d chronicled her earlier adventures in response to requests; an editor had asked for a story, and I filled the order. After “Clean Slate,” nobody had to ask me to write more about Kit. She was very much on and in my mind, and it became clear to me that I was writing a novel, and that I’d been unwittingly doing so from the first night she walked into that Hell’s Kitchen saloon.
The book, published in 2011 by Hard Case Crime, is Getting Off.