Just a few months ago, Stacey Abrams was racing through Georgia to increase voter turnout at record levels, undoing systems of disenfranchisement and sent two Democrats off to the U.S. Senate. The voting rights activist, who climbed the political scene after her contentious 2018 gubernatorial race, is now etching her name onto the spine of a fiction novel for the first time ever.
Releasing on May 11 from publisher Doubleday, While Justice Sleeps is a legal thriller about the spiraling world of an astute law clerk who is placed as the legal guardian of an incapacitated Supreme Court justice. And although it’s Abrams’ first fiction work under her name, she is far from a nascent novelist. The 47-year-old published her first book — “Rules of Engagement,” a romance novel — in 2001 while she was in her third year at Yale Law School. In an effort to discern between her writing and her political aspirations, she went on to publish the story along with seven more under the nom de plume Selena Montgomery. “There was never any attempt to hide who I was, my face was on the book cover when you open it up, the copyright is of my name,” Abrams says in an interview with Variety. At the time, the then-aspiring politician was publishing didactic articles on business income tax exemption and taxation, which was an entirely different realm from the steamy novels of romance. She continues, “What is so different about this book is this is my first fiction work, where all of my identities are known.”
For readers eager to dive into the stories she penned nearly two years ago, on Tuesday, Berkley announced that it acquired the rights to republish three of Abrams’ out-of-print novels. The Penguin Random House imprint will reissue the books in 2022, and by happenstance, this is the year of the politician’s potential run for governor. However, Abrams is clear that in the compartmentalization of her various identities, writing and politics exist equally. “Writing is as much a part of who I am as anything,” Abrams says in an interview with The New York Times. Crediting her insatiable appetite for literature to her family, she continues, “One thing I am grateful to my parents for is that there was never a moment where they said, ‘Don’t do this.’ What they wanted for us was to explore and try. And writing is native to the way I think about the world.”