Yesterday a man said to me, "My wife really likes your new book." He couldn't recall the title, but she'd said it was totally different from everything else she'd read of mine. I formed a theory from that and was just about to say the title when he said, "It's the one that takes place in Grand Rapids." Oh, THE DEAD DETECTIVE AGENCY.
Not the one I was thinking of at all. That book came out last April, and there have been so many on my mind in the time between that it seems really really old to me.
Another time, a man asked at a book signing what year my historical novel HER HIGHNESS' FIRST MURDER takes place. I said a year and added that it was during Henry VIII's rule. He informed me disgustedly that Henry was dead in the year I'd mentioned. I knew that, but at the time I was editing the second book, POISON, YOUR GRACE, which takes place under Edward's reign. That date was stuck in my head.
Authors work far in advance of what readers are reading. When we attend a book signing or speak to your book club, we're editing the next book and writing the one after that. Or we're focused on the new series that will begin as soon as the last of this series is released. For example, my editor just picked up the first of a new series that we're both really excited about, but she wants Book 2 ready for editing when Book 1 comes out, possibly in the fall.
I often feel like Vonnegut's Billy Pilgrim, unstuck in time. I jump from Tudors to modern to the '60s, and I sometimes have trouble pulling my mind to the right spot when a reader mentions a book. The one that came out in December? That seems like so long ago! I've been in so many different places since then.