Parallel Romance: Revealing The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz

Two strangers learn that their soul mate might be both as close as breath and as distant as a star…

We’re thrilled to reveal the cover and share an excerpt from The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz—publishing March 22, 2022 with Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Bee thinks she has everything: a successful business repurposing wedding dresses, and friends who love and support her. She’s given up on finding love, but that’s fine. There’s always Tinder. Nick thinks he has nothing: his writing career has stalled after early promise and his marriage has disintegrated, but that’s fine. There’s always gin. So when one of Nick’s emails, a viciously funny screed intended for a non-paying client, accidentally pings into Bee’s inbox, they decide to keep the conversation going. After all, they never have to meet.

But the more they get to know each other, the more Bee and Nick realize they want to. They both notice strange pop culture or political references that crop up in their correspondence, but nothing odd enough to stop Bee and Nick for falling hard for each other. But when their efforts to meet in real life fail spectacularly, Bee and Nick discover that they’re actually living in near-identical but parallel worlds. Now to beat impossible odds they’ll have to face impossible choices—and their worlds will see unthinkable consequences…

Cover art and design by Adam Auerbach

Sarah Lotz is a novelist and screenwriter based on the Welsh borders. Her novels include the bestselling The Three and Day Four, both of which are currently being adapted for television.


 

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Listen you tight-fisted pea-brained grouse-shooting tweedy twat, you may own half the fucking countryside but you don’t own me. You think I like hounding you? You think this is fun for me? But if you think I’m just going to lie back and let you screw me over like you no doubt screw over everyone who comes into your entitled orbit of damp lolling spaniels, vintage Land Rovers and Eton-induced P.T.S.D then you’ve got another think coming.

DO THE RIGHT THING FOR ONCE IN YOUR BADGER-BAITING FOX-SLAUGHTERING LIFE.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Hi.

You might want to double-check the recipient address. Far as I know, I’ve never owned a Land Rover & have definitely never been to Eton (don’t have the right equipment). Or is this a fiendishly creative scam & you’re using my response to embed malware? If so, you got me. Enjoy!

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Gawd. I’m so bloody sorry. Using a new account and miss-copied the address. Angry fingers. Thanks for replying and letting me know. Sorry you had to read that, whoever you are.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

TBH almost didn’t reply, but that was some impressive Malcolm Tucker-grade cursing you did there, & I was intrigued. Did the intended recipient kill your cat or something?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Worse. Didn’t pay me for work owed. That’s the toned-down version believe it or not. Took out all the ‘C’ words at the last minute. There were a lot of those.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

What kind of work? You don’t have to answer obvs, I’m killing time. Don’t usually strike up conversations with complete strangers I swear!

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

You deserve an answer – I did vicariously call you a twat. I’m a freelance editor and my tweedy arse of a client commissioned me to edit his novel. Ended up rewriting the thing, pretty much from scratch. Sent it to him 2 months ago. No feedback. No payment. Nada.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Very sorry to hear that. What was the novel about? ‘The Girl in the Grouse Shoot’?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

HA! Close! You really want to know?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Sure. You’ll be saving me from the perils of online shopping. I’ve already bought a duvet cover with David Bowie’s face on it that I don’t need.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

You can never have too much Bowie. I’d sleep under him and I’m as straight as they come. Crime novel. Not a bad plot. The remains of a body are unearthed on a country estate. Turns out to be a violent hunt saboteur who went missing in the 80s. Narrated by a landowner who may or may not have killed him…

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Well don’t keep me in suspense. DID he kill him?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Yeah. Accidentally on purpose. Like you do when you have guns to hand and the underclass try to mess with your blood sports. Supposed to be morally ambiguous but not sure I pulled that off. Hard to get a reader to root for a main character whose idea of a good time is killing baby animals.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Is it autobiographical? If so, you might want to tone down that message…

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Wouldn’t put it past him. Nah. That’s not fair. Said he didn’t do that kind of thing anymore.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

What kind of thing? Hunting or murder?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Both (I hope). Thing is, despite the tweedy twatness, I quite liked him when we met. Old bugger, generous with the booze, lives in one of those crumbling stately homes that could have fallen straight out of a period drama about emotionally stunted aristocrats. Said he wanted to write a novel before he died but ‘didn’t have the time’. They always say that. Worked my arse off on his manuscript, sent it to him and apart from a ‘thanks, will read asap’ haven’t heard a word.

But you don’t want to hear all this.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

I share your pain. Non-Paying Clients from Hell are the freelancers’ curse.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Spoken like a fellow sufferer. What field are you in?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

If I tell you that I’ll have to kill you.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

You’d be doing me a favour the way things are going. If you’re an assassin I might commission you. Only… can I pay you in instalments?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Ha ha. Nothing that exciting. I’m in fashion. Kind of.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Kind of? Tell me more. Just so you know, my idea of fashion is trousers that aren’t covered in dog hair.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

I’m more of a glorified seamstress. Have a small business repurposing wedding dresses.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

What do you repurpose them into? Shrouds? Doilies?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Sorry. That was rude. I’m a dick. It sounds cool. And e-friendly.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Feel free to take the piss! I do it all the time. Hmm. Shrouds. Hadn’t thought of that. Could start a new line: ‘Till death us do part’.

I repurpose them into whatever the client wants. ‘Give the most expensive dress you ever bought a new lease of life’ kind of thing. Get a lot of divorcees actually.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Aha. A ‘fuck you ex husband/wife’ dress?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Exactly. Waiting for a client to pitch for a fitting right now. She’s a bit of a pain in the arse TBH, which is why I was self-medicating with Bowie merchandise.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Tell me more. Misery loves company.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

She can’t make up her mind. Been back 3 times. ‘I’ve been thinking, can it be asymmetrical? With a peplum? With a jacket maybe? Can we do it in black? No, scratch that, peach?’

Listen to me, whingeing to a stranger. I sound like a total cow. She’s got every right to be fussy. She’s the one paying.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

It’s easier to whinge to a stranger and you’ve already listened to me going on about my own shitty client. Hold on. BRB.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Sorry had to let the dog out. When she needs to go she needs to go.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

What type?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

A shit I think.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

V funny. What type of dog!!!

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Mongrel. Like her owner. Let me know if you need me to write Ms Peach a strongly worded email. I’ll even throw in a few ‘C’ words for free.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

And I can help you out by badly altering your client’s tweedy suits.

We could be a low-rent version of Strangers on a Train!

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Strangers on a Train?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

The novel? You MUST know it! Movie as well. 2 strangers meet & then decide to kill each other’s enemies or whatever. Patricia Highsmith.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

AH – I know it as Crossed Lines. Must have read the U.S version. Sometimes they change the titles.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

You’re in the U.S?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Nah. Way more glamorous. Leeds.

 

From: Bee198[email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

Ok the client’s just texted & is on her way. Let me know how it goes with Tweedy Twat, stranger. I have to know how it ends. Also, not for me to say but might be best if you did tone down that message. Never show them that they’ve got to you.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

You’re right. You did me a favour by intercepting it. And let me know how it goes with Ms Peach.

Shouldn’t we introduce ourselves?

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

I’m Bee. You’re N.B.

Strangers on the Interwebs. That way if we ever need each other we’ll have plausible deniability ;)

She’s here! Wish me luck.

 

From: [email protected]
To: [email protected]
Subject: What the HELL is wrong with you?

OK Bee. And thank you. You pulled me out of a dark place today. You really did.

 

Excerpted from The Impossible Us, copyright © 2021 by Sarah Lotz.

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