American Blonde by Jennifer Niven

  My friends and family helped keep me sane, made me laugh, forgave my long absences from the world outside my computer, and loved me anyway. Adoring thanks to the Waxhaw homefolk, especially Gay McGee Diller, Gloria McGee Hope, Patricia “Patsy” Niven Gamble McGee, Ken Collins (and the members of his amazing book club), and Dr. Haskell Eargle for their Velva Jean enthusiasm, promotion, and warm hospitality. And to the LA homefolk—Angelo Surmelis, Ed Baran, Lisa Brucker, Jack Angelo, Briana Harley (who was also one of my three trusted early readers), and the wild and wonderful Irish laddies, Joe Kraemer, Justin Speranza, and Shawn Fowler.

  Thank you to my lovely and brilliant dynamo of a literary agent, Kerry Sparks (and everyone at the ultrafabulous Levine Greenberg Literary Agency, with special nods to Elizabeth Fisher and Monika Verma), for effortlessly and enthusiastically picking up the Velva Jean baton and running with it—and for surpassing every expectation.

  Thanks to Lara Yacoubian, Phoebe Phillips, and Laura Burdine, Greatest Interns Ever (which is why they have cameos in this story). Thank you, Briana Harley, Shelby Padgett, and Jordan Gripenwaldt for thinking up “Kit Rogers.” Thank you, Larry Edmunds Bookshop, for always magically stocking the research books I needed. And thanks to my friends at the Wilshire Boulevard Robeks (particularly the always-smiling Adriana Ramirez), who kept me nourished, and who were often the only nonfictional people I interacted with outside the world of my apartment.

  Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all the remarkable readers who have faithfully followed Velva Jean from one adventure to another, and to all the Velva Jeans, Velvas, Velda Jeans, and Velmer Jeans among you.

  Lastly, thank you to John A. Ware. He was my first literary agent, but this doesn’t begin to encapsulate what he was to me. He was, to put it more accurately, my friend, surrogate father, champion, fellow blues lover, teller of jokes, cheerleader, editor, wizard, and a true gentleman. He was known for his honesty and integrity in a business that runs too short on both. His main concern for me—always—was that I be happy in my work, and that I honor my creative self. He saw me through seven books, and we had plans for so many more. In the midst of the hardest deadlines, he would pick up the phone and call me just to play a bit of blues on my voicemail or tell me a joke. He checked in frequently to make sure I was okay, that I wasn’t discouraged, and that I had what I needed in order to do what I needed to do.

  In the wake of his untimely death in April 2013, I take with me all I learned from him, editorially, creatively, professionally, and personally. I was lucky to have known him.

  This one’s for you, John.

  “Onward,” as he used to say.



  Jennifer Niven, American Blonde

  (Series: # )




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