Monday, April 27, 2009
"Live every week like it's Edgar Week." --Tracy Jordan
Ok, Tracy didn't actually say that, but this week is Edgar Week. Due to several scheduling snafus, this will be my first Edgar Week since 2006. Last year I was in Oklahoma for the OWFI writers conference, and in 2007 I was in Houston for the Romantic Times convention (which I covered here. Ironically I was one of the few men there who was actually covered). Back in 2006 I attended the famous Black Orchid Edgar pre-party as a newly-signed author. And though I'm sad that the Orchid has closed its doors, Bonnie and Joe still come around a lot, and the Mysterious Bookshop has graciously taken over pre-party duties.
So if you're in NYC on Tuesday, April 28th, stop by the Mysterious Bookshop at 6:00, where the Mystery Writers of America will be introducing their brand new anthology: THE PROSECUTION RESTS edited by Linda Fairstein. I had the chance to meet Linda at last week's Murder 203, and she had some fantastic stories to tell. If this anthology maintains that level of quality, it'd be a crime to miss it (Mystery writer pun!).
The rest of the week will be filled with informative symposiums, book parties, and, of course, the presentation of the prestigious Edgar awards. For more info on all the Edgar activities, go to TheEdgars.com. See you there...
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Romantic Times Redux
In honor of the start of this year's Romantic Times convention, I thought I'd repost the blog I kept from my 2007 trip to RT in Houston. Needless to say, it was quite an interesting experience.
April 25, 2007: Day 1
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Why Dan Brown Matters
Now that I'm back in NYC full time, at least once I day I walk through my local bookstore. On any given afternoon, I'm likely to see a group of teenagers huddled in several aisles, hunkered around a book or manga, pointing, talking, laughing and enjoying themselves. To these kids, reading is cool, something to experience and talk about among their friends. They could be doing any one of a dozen other things, but they're hanging out in a bookstore. Things like that make me smile.
Yesterday I wrote a post, perhaps overly snarky, about a poster of Orlando Bloom promoting reading hanging on the wall of a library. Now, regardless of what I think about Mr. Bloom, something in children's literature seems to be working. When you think about all the books that have been published over the last few years that have been cultural touchstones, they're all books aimed at children and young adults. The publication of new books by J.K. Rowling, Christopher Paolini and Stephenie Meyer have become events. People line up at midnight on release day for their copy, just like I did for a brand new U2 album back in the day (my dad always came with me to our local HMV because I was too young to drink the bottle of Guinness that came free with each purchase).
The night Stephenie Meyer's BREAKING DAWN was published last year, I was walking my dog. We passed by my local Barnes & Noble around 11:00, and the line to get in had already wrapped around the block. Kids were dressed to the nines, costumed and buzzing with excitement. I was informed by a security guard that nobody else would be allowed into the store because there was no room. No room! These kids weren't home watching television or playing videogames or texting. On this night, kids were lined up outside of a bookstore because reading was cool. I thought back to a few years ago when my friend Mike had a pool party. I remember all of our friends hanging around, drinking beer and margaritas...all of us except for my friend Mark. Mark was sitting on a chair, reading the sixth Harry Potter book which had just come out. And we all knew to leave him alone.
Yesterday, Knopf/Doubleday announced the September 15th publication of Dan Brown's long-awaited followup to THE DA VINCI CODE, one of the best-selling books of all time. Five million copies of THE LOST SECRET will be shipped to stores. But five months before the book comes out, the sniping has already begun.
The book will be a critical and commercial disappointment.
The book won't save the publishing industry.
Dan Brown has goofy hair.
The haters can shove it. To my mind, THE DA VINCI CODE was a perfectly decent thriller. No more, no less. Sure the prose was a bit clumsy, but the plot kept me entertained for a few hours (something that should not be taken lightly). Obviously the book touched a nerve far deeper than that of pure entertainment, just as books by Ms. Rowling and Ms. Meyer have. I have read three different New York newspapers this morning, and all three have prominent articles on the impending publication of THE LOST SECRET. These articles are not buried in the middle of the paper, but are printed within the first eight or so pages (right up there with tawdry wedding scandals and mockery of David Patterson--you know, the important stuff). The publication of this book is a bona fide event. When was the last time a book for adults was an actual event? Sure Grisham and Patterson sell books by the truckload, but their release dates are hardly the kind of thing you call your friends to talk about.
So naturally, the haters are going to come out of the woodwork, as is their right. There are a lot of people who disliked the book for the book itself, but there are also a lot of people who hated the book for what it stood for ("This is one of the best-selling books ever?"). I don't really care much about those people. THE LOST SECRET is a thriller, first and foremost. Even the press release touts it as pure entertainment ("...a brilliant and compelling thriller...readers will feel the thrill of discovery..."). And yet within minutes September 15th became a full-fledged pop culture event. People will be lining up to buy their copy. And even if it doesn't come close to the success of THE DA VINCI CODE, I can't remember the last time there was this kind of buzz about a book aimed at adults. Perhaps Bill Clinton's memoir approached it, but I'm willing to bet a whole lot more people actually read Brown's book than Clinton's (I bought Clinton's MY LIFE, and it looks lovely holding up the foundation of my apartment building).
So September 15th will come, and there will surely be a great deal of criticism before and after the fact. I don't really care. I'll buy my copy and I'll read it, and I know a lot of other people who will too. The book may be brilliant, or it may suck. It may shatter every sales record, or it may be a commercial disappointment. It may be read as entertainment, or it may be read for the religious and spiritual implications. The bottom line is that all of this discussion and argument, all of this buzz and anticipation...this makes reading cool for people of all ages. And that is something that should never be taken for granted.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Look into my eyes...
While speaking at a library over the weekend, I came upon...this. Now, perhaps I am not exactly the demographic that can be persuaded to read a book by a sultry-looking Orlando Bloom...but is this not the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen? It's not as if celebrities advertising reading is a bad thing (just across the room was a poster featuring Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart reading a copy of TWILIGHT while looking like they're actually enjoying it. Yes, they were reading it. Not clutching it like Linus with his blanket). So why is this ridiculous? Let's go step-by-step:
1) Orlando does not look like he shows any interest in reading. In fact, he seems to be saying, "Let me take that silly book from you so we can snuggle."
2) What kind of book is he holding? Some sort of bible from the middle ages? I think he's trying to channel Ron Burgundy: "I am Orlando Bloom...I own many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany."
3) Who does this appeal to? Teenage boys? Nope. Older men? Uh-uh (at least I hope not). Older women? Come on, they're into Hugh Jackman. Teenage girls? Ick. Orlando is 32. That's entering creepyhood.
4) Orlando is clutching that book so tightly it's as if he wants to do everything in his sharp-cheekboned power to prevent you from reading. "Oh, you want this book? You know where I have lots of books? In my bedroom (wink, wink)."
5) "Orlando Bloom @ your library"--is that a threat?
Friday, April 17, 2009
I'll be heading up to Trumbull, Connecticut today to take part in this weekend's inaugural Murder 203 conference. Having gone to college in CT (Wesleyan '03, let me hear you!) this will be an exciting opportunity to meet readers from the area. If you plan on attending, please stop by and say hello. I'm quite a friendly person. My panel schedule is:
Saturday, April 18th, 2:30 p.m.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION...
Moderator--Jason Pinter (that's me!)
Saturday, April 18th, 3:45 p.m.
WRITING URBAN CRIME vs. SUBURBAN CRIME
Sunday, April 19th, 10:45 a.m.
GREAT ENDINGS AND WHY THEY MATTER
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Space Between
I've had a bit of an odd feeling recently. Most people are aware that the fourth Henry Parker novel, THE FURY, was originally slated to come out in March (last month), but was pushed back to October. Nevertheless, I am often reminded that not all my readers follow this blog or all the other time-wasting social networking sites that drain my soul. Other the last month I've received a lot of emails all basically saying, "Uh, at the end of THE STOLEN, the teaser chapter says THE FURY will be out in March. What happened?"
Well, suffice it to say THE FURY did not come out in March. Because THE FURY was written as the first part of a two-book series, my publisher decided to push both books back and release them in a short time frame to increase shelf presence and hopefully maximize publicity. So THE FURY will be out in October, and the fifth Parker novel, THE DARKNESS, will be out in December. I took great pains to make sure each book could be read individually, but I'd be lying if I didn't say the books were meant to be read in order. I certainly hope that's how most people read them.
Now, I'm not sure if this is possible for someone who's contracted to write two books a year, but I'm getting a little stir crazy. Because I had three books out out in the span of thirteen months, I was getting used to the rapid publication schedule. I loved the entire process. Loved seeing new cover concepts, loved writing and revising back cover copy, and loved talking about the books to anyone who would listen. But after those three books in thirteen months, it will now be fourteen months between releases (from THE STOLEN in August '08 to THE FURY in October '09). So I've found myself getting kind of antsy. Because I wrote THE FURY during my original publication schedule, the book was done, copyedited and proofed months ago (I believe that process was finished in October '08). Galleys should be in around mid-May. The last few months I've been working full-tilt to finish up THE DARKNESS, a process that wasn't easy considering I was also recovering from major spine surgery.
Two weeks ago, I turned in the final draft of THE DARKNESS. I should see copyedits some point over the next two months. In between, though, I've been slowly getting to work on the sixth Parker novel (tentatively titled THE INVITED), while also working on a side project (close followers of this blog and my Twitter feed know what I'm talking about. No, it's not a Parker novel. It's not even a crime novel.). I'm so excited for the next two Parker novels come out, but since that's not for another five and a half months I need to pace myself. I don't want the books to come out and feel like my excitement has dwindled. It shouldn't. I honestly feel like these two books are the best in the series so far, and every time I tell people what they're about I get goose bumps. They're the most personal books yet for Henry, as well as the most timely and intricate stories. The first early reader who finished THE DARKNESS actually cried. Call me a sadist, but that made me smile.
So for now, it's back to work on Parker #6. Strange feeling to be working on the sixth book in a series nearly six months before the fourth even comes out. I'll plow through, though, because I have enough on my plate to keep me excited, enough ideas for future Parker novels, and one or two more ideas that have really inspired me lately.
I should also have final cover art for both THE FURY and THE DARKNESS soon. I can't wait to share them, as they might be my favorite covers yet.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Monday, April 06, 2009
May 1st, 2009
International 'Buy Indie' Day
On May 1, 2009, please support your local independent bookstore by buying one (or more!) books. Hardcover, paperback, audio, doesn't matter, as long as the purchase is made at an indie. Independent bookstores are imperative to the health of the book industry and contribute greatly to the culture of our communities. Join the 'Buy Indie' Facebook group for more info, and and stay tuned to hear about local indie activities and signings in your neighborhood. To find a list of local independent bookstores in your area, please visit www.indiebound.org.
Friday, April 03, 2009
PBO vs. Hardcover
Who wins (and does it matter?)
There's an interesting discussion about the stigma and economics of publishing books as paperback originals over at The Kill Zone. This stems from ITW's decision to eliminate their "Best Paperback Original" category from this year's Thriller awards.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
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