ALBUQUERQUE, NM - New Mexico author Alisa Lynn Valdes, whose NY Times and USA Today bestselling "chica lit" novels are published under her former married name, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, and who has more than 1 million books in print in 11 languages - has moved to the suspense/thriller genre with her latest six-figure book deal.
This week, Publisher's Marketplace announced Thomas & Mercer has acquired HOLLOW BEASTS and BLOOD MOUNTAIN, the first two books in Valdes's JODI LUNA series. The books went to T&M editor Liz Pearsons at auction, brokered by Valdes's literary agent, Alicia Brooks of the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency in New York.
The Jodi Luna book series centers around a middle-aged single Latina mother, a tough-as-nails game warden working alone in the vast unspoiled wilderness of Northern New Mexico. A former poetry professor in Massachusetts, Luna has decided to do more than write about the wonders of nature in the wake of her environmentalist husband's mysterious and untimely death; she returns to the small New Mexico town in which she was raised, and commits to patrolling what's left of the natural world, to protect the animals and land there - often by any means necessary. Game warden is ranked the No. 1 most dangerous job in law enforcement, with conservation officers seven times more likely than city cops to be attacked by perpetrators in the line of duty. Game wardens often work alone, in remote areas without radio or mobile service, up against armed poachers who have little regard for life or the law.
In the first novel, HOLLOW BEASTS, Jodi discovers a white supremacist terrorist cell hiding and training in the remote Santa Fe National Forest, with new recruits having to prove their mettle to leader General Zeb by kidnapping and hunting women they believe to be Mexican (some are, others are Navajo, Guatamalan, etc.). When Luna unwittingly tickets one of the group's members for poaching, he becomes obsessed with destroying her life, targeting Luna's teen daughter Mila in particular. Other characters include Jodi's brother, Oscar, a Catholic priest who helps her raise her daughter, and a young sheriff's deputy, Ashley Romero, who has more in common with Jodi than at first meets the eye. The cat-and-mouse chase between General Zeb and Jodi, set against the stunning backdrop of New Mexico's Rocky Mountain wilderness, is a nonstop thrill ride that highlights the historical and growing threat to people of color, democracy and nature itself at the hands of white supremacy. HOLLOW BEASTS is set to be published in the winter of 2023.
The second novel, BLOOD MOUNTAIN, has Jodi investigate reports of a monstrous non-hibernating bear mauling and killing people in an unusually warm winter in the Sangre de Cristo mountains outside of Santa Fe. When she is snowed in at a billionaire's ranch with a dozen others while investigating the case, she soon realizes the brutal serial killer on the lose is not a bear, but one very powerful and dangerous human being.
Valdes says she is delighted by the change in genre. "I have always been the world's biggest Dean Koontz fan," she said from her home in Albuquerque. "I've always admired his ability to deliver a nail-biting plot, using language with great care and cleverness, while imparting a powerful social commentary. I strive with these books to do likewise. I am grateful to his publisher, Thomas & Mercer, for giving me a chance to enter the suspense genre under the same roof as a master like Koontz."
Valdes says the Luna character came to her on her many solitary hikes in the mountains of New Mexico during the covid pandemic. "Jodi is my answer to the helplessness I feel, watching the dual global crises of covid and climate change, and growing authoritarianism in the United States and elsewhere. I created a hero we all need - a strong, moral, compassionate but tough woman of color, fearless and determined to protect people of color, women, children, the wilderness, traditional farming and hunting practices in balance with nature, and the disempowered generally. I have grown a lot as a person and writer in the nearly 20 years since THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB came out, and this new series reflects who I am now, and what matters to me most, as a woman, as a mother, as a life form on this small blue rock we call home. Social justice cannot be achieved until we realize that nature and its wild plants and animals and places, too, are part of our global society. No struggle will matter if we don't address the biggest one of all - to stop exploiting the earth, to see nature as our mother, to safeguard our planet and all its creatures."
To inquire about foreign rights to the series, please contact Jennifer Weltz at firstname.lastname@example.org. For film or TV rights inquiries, please contact Carolina Beltran at William Morris Endeavor. All other inquiries please use the contact form on this website.