Monday, June 23, 2008

The Ten Commandments were a marketing decision...

I had to break my hiatus to pay respects to one of the funniest and most influential comedians and thinkers of our time, George Carlin. I first discovered George about seven years ago, when my girlfriend (now my wife) bought me an audiobook of NAPALM AND SILLY PUTTY to pass the time while driving to NYC and back during college. I fell in love with his irreverence, intelligence, and his ability to find humor in both the complex and the mundane. After listening to that audiobook, I went to the Meriden Mall and bought every Carlin CD I could find (this was before iPods). I've listened to every one at least ten times, and can practically recite my favorite bits (I have a soft spot for George's reality show featuring inbred prison inmates).

You can't go into a comedy club these days without hearing a comedian doing a secondhand version of Carlin's stuff. He was the first generation of angry and controversial comedians like Chris Rock, Lewis Black, and Sam Kinison. Carlin was of of those rare performers who was both an icon and an iconoclast. Rest in peace, George. Let us know if there really is a god...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've been thinking a lot recently about what my goals are, both as a writer and a person. Some of my goals I've either accomplished or am on track to, but some are not yet within reach. The reason for this is not lack or effort or desire, I think, but in some sense it's really a matter of getting my priorities straight.

I never meant to be a 'blogger'. This site was created first and foremost with the intention of reaching new audiences for my books, promoting my work, and staying in contact with friends and fans. There are dozens of blogs that use the blog medium for providing insightful commentary and offering useful resources. I've begun to debate whether this site is helping me accomplish my professional and personal goals, or if it in fact is hindering them. And my feelings currently are fairly obvious.

Since I spent a great deal of time updating and maintaining The Man in Black, I feel that I need time to step back and focus more on things that should be, but perhaps have not been, higher on my list of priorities.

I sincerely doubt this will be my last post, but they will certainly decrease in frequency. I still love hearing from fans and readers, and hope you continue to visit, and contacting me at I respond to every email, and those are generally more fun and substantial than blog comments anyway. Relationships are always best when they're more personal, and hopefully stepping back will actually strengthen some bonds.

Thanks to everyone who has read and continues to support The Man in Black. The site itself will remain active, and don't be surprised if something pops up every now and then. 

See you soon.

Photos From Abroad
Part 1

Oxford Circus

Heading towards the BBC radio station

Inside the BBC radio station

Me: "Can I take pictures inside the station?"
Security Guard: "Why would you want to?"

Howard Stern, watch your gheri curls...

About to sign copies of THE MARK at Waterstone's

Me to the Borders bookseller: " you really think you can sell all these?"

Outside my hotel in London

More from Oxford Circus

copies of THE MARK at W.H. Smith in Paddington Station

Yrsa Sigurdadottir, Kevin Wignall, Laura Wilson (aka fellow Morality in Crime panelists)

Steve Mosby and I discussing morality in crime (this was my very first moderating gig)

our lady of Bristol

Suzy, Catherine and Belinda, the terrific MIRA UK team

scenic, no?

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Quick Hit

Ben Hunt interviewed me for 'Material Witness': check out the article here.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

The Way Home

I'm sitting in a small cafe in Heathrow airport, trying not to think about how much money I've spent on stupid T-Mobile internet passes over the last few months.

My flight back to New York leaves in just over two hours, and I have to say my trip abroad was an unqualified success. My publisher really pulled out all the stops, and a special thanks go out to Catherine, Belinda and Suzy who accompanied me to Bristol. They were wonderful guides, and I know my UK career is in good hands. I can't thank them enough. 

As it stands, my six day tally clocks in at:

--4 airline flights
--2 train rides
--4 different hotels
--11 interviews
--Approximately 150 books signed at 6 different stores

CrimeFest was a terrific conference, and my first outside the U.S. Thanks go out to Adrian Muller for inviting me, and for organizing a great event (even more so considering this was the inaugural Crimefest). The panels were interesting and well-attended, and I have a slew of photographs from the trip that will be posted as I catch up some much-needed sleep. I also must give a shout out to Kevin Wignall, fellow "Morality in Crime Fiction" panelist, simply because he mentioned receiving a Google Alert after I posted about reading his (fantastic) novel WHO IS CONRAD HIRST? on my flight back from Dublin. So hopefully Kevin will get another Google Alert from this as well. 

Other authors I met in person for the first time included: Jeff Lindsay (who went to Middlebury--boo!), James Twining (who is hopefully over his hay fever), Meg Gardiner (whose husband taught our banquet table the true story of how the internet was created), Simon Kernick, Chris Mooney, Katherine John, Laurie R. King, Allan "Sunshine" Guthrie, Steve Mosby, Yrsa Sigurdardottir (whose last name I mangled during our panel), Michael Morley, John Rickards and Laura Wilson. Thanks to everyone for their incredible hospitality.

Perhaps the most memorable moment from the conference occurred yesterday afternoon following Ian Rankin's interview with Peter Guttridge. After the talk ended I went to the men's room, and right before entering I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if it was just me and Ian Rankin in the bathroom?"

Sure enough I open the door, and who am I alone with in the men's room? None other than Ian Rankin. I thought about it, but decided offering to shake his hand would have been slightly inappropriate.

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Friday, June 06, 2008

Bristol Calling

I have only three hours left in London before catching a train to Bristol for the CrimeFest convention. This is CrimeFest's inaugural year, and was apparently inspired by the success of Left Coast Crime which was held in Bristol in 2006. (I heard a funny story regarding Tony Blair and the city of Bristol, which will be a great icebreaker at the bar)

A slew of terrific authors are attending, including Ian Rankin, Jeff "Dexter" Lindsay, Karin Fossum, Laurie R. King, and many more. I h
ave two panels on Saturday, the first at 9:00 am as a participant:

SCARED TO DEATH: Thrills and Chills
Moderator: Declan Hughes
Katherine John
Michael Morley
Jason Pinter
James Twining

Then I'll be moderating a panel at 1:30:

WRITING THE WRONGS: Morality in Crime Fiction
Moderator: Jason Pinter
Steve Mosby
Kevin Wignall
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Laura Wilson

And if I may digress, I noticed perhaps the strangest sentence in the history of newspapers this morning while reading The Daily Telegraph. In the (very good) review for Ben Affleck's "Gone, Baby, Gone" the reviewer wrote, "(Michelle) Monaghan, who bears an unfortunate resemblance to Janet Jackson..."

And I was thinking, wait, is there a different Janet Jackson I'm not aware of? Because here is what Michelle Monaghan looks like:

And here is what Janet Jackson looks like:

My time in London has been wonderful, though I'll have to take another trip back to stay here and in Dublin for a good old touristy trip soon. Yesterday alone I had six interviews and three stock signings, and at one point I actually fell asleep for ten minutes in the waiting room at the BBC Radio studios in Oxford Circus.

Last night I had drinks and dinner with the UK publishing team. Lots of wine was consumed, and a good time was had by all.

And in a moment that has to mean something...when we walked into the Naked Turtle restaurant for dinner, the haunting Johnny Cash song "I Hung My Head" was playing over the speakers. In my second novel, THE GUILTY (due out in the UK in December), there's an epigraph. And that epigraph is from...wait for it..."I Hung My Head" by Johnny Cash.

I literally got chills. And if I didn't know before, that moment confirmed that this trip has been worth every second.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

London Calling (and book signing schedule)

I'm feeling awake and refreshed this morning (perhaps having to do with sleeping past 5:30 am for the first time since Saturday), and excited for my first full day in London. I arrived back from Dublin yesterday morning and immediately went for a lunch with several reps from my publisher as well as journalists and book retailers. We had a great conversation about books, politics, the economy, and I've noticed that almost inevitably when speaking to someone not from New York 9/11 ends up a topic of conversation.

After lunch I passed out for a few hours, then took a long walk into Hyde Park and over to Notting Hill (sadly I did not see Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts, though I did see a lot of guys that looked like Rhys Ifans). My midnight interview went smashingly (I'm already turning into Madonna), and today I have a slew of BBC radio interviews scheduled, followed by several signings (see below for times). 

Tonight is a dinner with my UK publishing team, who have gone far above and beyond the call of duty. Plus I've been told to wear my drinking hat. (That I've been traveling around Ireland and London for nearly three days and have only had one single, solitary pint of Guinness is inconceivable)

I've read two books on the trip so far: Ian Rankin's classic first Rebus novel KNOTS AND CROSSES and Kevin Wignall's multi-nominated WHO IS CONRAD HIRST?

The response to THE MARK has been wonderful here. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, as I'm pretty unaware of how foreign tastes in crime fiction compare to the U.S., but so far it has been a great experience. I've also had a chance to address some questions about my career and about publishing that I don't get to touch on too often. The genre's role in literature (sadly most people consider genre and literature to be two entirely different species). Whether age or looks help get more publicity for your book (if you're a young woman writing a roman a clef about fashion, publishing or gossip, yes. If you're a young man with unruly hair and/or a pocket square with a 'literary pedigree' writing either a memoir or thinly-veiled memoir, yes. If you're a young man or woman writing crime fiction, no).

One thing I've noticed on the bookselling side--from the relatively few stores I've been in, granted--is how few hardcovers are sold in the UK. I've only seen three books being sold in hardcover: Ken Follett's WORLD WITHOUT END, Jeffrey Archer's PRISONER OF BIRTH and Sebastian Faulk's James Bond novel DEVIL MAY CARE. I've been told that larger paperbacks are the most popular format for big-name authors, both for price and convenience, and only the top, top, top authors come out in hardback. 

Oh yeah, and the dollar don't buy squat here.

Book Signings
Since I've heard from a few UK readers, I'll be signing copies of THE MARK at Waterstone's at 421 Oxford Street at 2:30, and then at Waterstone's at 19-23 Oxford Street somewhere around 3:15.

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I'm back in London after an all too brief day yesterday in Dublin. What I saw of the city was stunning, and I hope to go back there soon for a more substantial visit. As it was, I did two interviews that went very well, including a photo shoot(!) for an Irish daily paper that should run some time in the next two weeks. The day was topped off with dinner at Fallon & Byrne with my publicity rep, two sales reps from my publisher, and buyers from two of the larger chains in Ireland. A great crew, and I learned that Irish people like to describe things they enjoy as being 'gorgeous.' (As in: "How's does your beef taste?" "Gorgeous.")

Unfortunately most of the pubs had served last call by the time we left the restaurant (apparently the real weekend begins on Thursday night), but we did manage to get in a pint of Guinness before hitting the road.

Today brings lunch with some UK newspaper folks and another round of interviews, including a radio interview scheduled for midnight. Since my body is now on Centaurian time (a 37-hour day) it should be no problem.

And this very nifty shot was taken in Eason's bookstore on O'Connell Street, the main shopping strip in Dublin. (thanks to Ian Roberts for this!)

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Notes from the road...

Dublin is simply beautiful, and, according to my incredibly kind publicity rep, this is the nicest day the city has seen in some time. Thanks, Dublin! (shame I'm here for less than 24 hours)

I did my first interview for an Irish radio show about two and a half hours ago, and it went very well. Because film rights to THE MARK have been optioned by an Ireland-based production company they were very keen to hear about that. My second interview is in a little over an hour, and it will only be my second sit-down ever. Apparently they're bringing a photographer as well. Hopefully my skin looks slightly better than Amy Winehouse's.

So far since leaving my house I've literally spent more time in airports than on the ground. I'm at that weird point where I'm so tired I'm actually kind of hyper. It might also have to do with the coffee they brew in Europe that's so strong it could kick Starbucks's ass with a wooden stirrer.

Thrill of the trip (so far): seeing THE MARK in W.H. Smith in Heathrow airport. 

Tip of the trip (so far): my cab driver pointing out that the best pint of Guinness in Dublin is served at a bar just around the corner from my hotel. See you soon, O'Donohue's...

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Anarchy (and books!) in the UK

I'm sitting in a hotel room in London, getting ready to embark on my very first publicity tour in the UK and Ireland for the release of THE MARK. That my first tour occurs outside the U.S. makes me wonder if I have bad breath, but nonetheless I'm very excited. I have to give a shout out to the incredible UK team who've gone above and beyond to put together a great itinerary, while being as kind an enthusiastic as an author could hope for.

Yesterday I flew in to Heathrow, landing about 7:15 pm here, but then spent literally over an hour waiting on line at customs. As if that wasn't bad enough, they had a recording running on an endless loop that said, "There are many inbound passengers at this time of day. Due to tougher security measures you may have to wait a little bit longer to get into the country." Plus the cell phone I thought would work here does not actually work here. 

Imagine not only standing on line for over an a hour after a 6 hour flight, but listening to some say that loudly over and over again the entire time.

After that it was to the Marriot by Heathrow for one (half) night of sleep, because today I'm flying over to Dublin via Aer Lingus (officially my favorite airline name of all time) for a quick day of promo before flying back to London. I'll be here for three days, then taking the train to Bristol for the CrimeFest convention. It's 5 hours ahead here, but my body has completely lost all concept of time so it's possible I might fall asleep at any moment. Or just run around wired with my underwear on my head like Cornholio.

Ireland has been at the top of my "must visit" list for a long time, so even though I'll be there barely 24 hours I'm hoping to get some good pictures. And if I leave the country without having a pint in a real, honest-to-goodness Irish pub, the U.S. should revoke my citizenship (not really).

It is currently 5:54 am, and I have just over half an hour before a cab is picking up to bring me back to Heathrow. And thus begins "Jet Lag Tour 2008." More from the road coming soon (if I stay awake).

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