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Archive for July, 2010

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Talking business with my editor Jennifer Hershey. Food and wine on Random House!

Just got back from this year’s Thrillerfest, and had an absolutely fantastic time.  Now, many of you may know what Thrillerfest is and that I go every year, and many of you may have no idea and not particularly care, but I’m sure you will keep reading to be polite.  Right?  Anyhow, here’s the quick rundown. 

Thrillerfest is the annual conference of International Thriller Writers, founded at the 2004 Boucercon (a mystery convention, for those not in the know) out of a sense that thrillers and thriller-writers required their own professional organization.  This was a historic meeting at which I was present, though my role was mostly to annoy the organizers by whispering snarky comments back and forth with Partners and Crime’s Maggie Griffin.  She started it, by the way. 

Outdoor cafe time with Marvel Editor, Bill Rosemann. Many important business-type things were discussed.

Now, the truth is that my books and I are not a natural fit at Thrillerfest, which tends to emphasize novels in the espionage, serial killer and hunt-for-the-ancient-artifact-and/or-secret camp.  Few writers who linger in the “literary thriller” classification bother to show up, and historical thriller writers are few enough that this year I was on a panel entitled, “Historical Thrillers” How Vital is the Subgenre?”  Why not call it “Historical Thrillers: Who Cares?”  As far as I know, literary thriller writers don’t have their own convention.  Maybe those guys aren’t friendly, and if that’s the case, who wants to hang out with them?  Mainstream thriller writers, however — those guys are fun!

So if Thrillerfest is not a perfect match for my kind of books, it’s still a great party and a productive way to spend my time.  This year I had a packed schedule of meetings with various editors, journalists, and potential partners in all sorts of nifty projects.  I met with my Random House editor to discuss my new novel, and I met with my editor at Marvel to discuss my many upcoming projects there (none of which I can talk about yet – but soon.  I promise). 

Me and Christopher Goldman, who edited The New Dead -- the zombie anthology in which I had a short story. We are cooking up some crazy stuff here.

And there is no shortage of casual conversations and encounters that open doors and usher in opportunities.  Plus, some of my best friends in the biz come to this convention, and I always leave feeling all warm and fuzzy.

On top of all that, I’ve participated in a number of International Thriller Writers publications over the years, including the short story anthology Thriller: Stories to Keep You Up All Night and the serial novel Watchlist — which you may have heard about on NPR.   This year I attended the launch and signing party for the non-fiction collection Thrillers: 100 Must Reads, in which I have an essay.  The book takes the long view of the evolution of the Thriller (the

Signing books and hanging out with swell pal Leslie Silbert.

opening essay by Lee Child is on the Theseus myth).  My piece, by the way, is on Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, which I hope means that I remain ITW’s go-to guy for the British 18th century.

But all that is beside the point.  The point, if I remember correctly, is that Thrillerfest is an awesome time.  I’ll see you there next year.

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

Byron. The chicks in this story will dig him.

Okay, time for a quick update.  Who am I?  Where am I going?  What am I doing?  These are all important questions, and I’m glad you asked.

I have just submitted the final (I hope!) draft of the new novel, The Darkening Green, to my editor.  If all goes well, it should be on sale in autumn, 2011.    Here’s a brief description that I wrote for my agent about a year ago.  Surprisingly, it is still accurate:

Linked to real historical events and people – the Luddite uprising, the assassination of Prime Minister Spencer Perceval, the Napoleonic Wars, Lord Byron, William Blake, the Prince Regent – The Darkening Green is the world of Jane Austen turned on its head.  It is the splendor of the Regency as we have come to idealize it, but it is also the Regency as it was lived by millions of British women and men – poverty, recession, famine, food riots, political instability, the beginning of an industrial revolution that will destroy entire communities and ways of living, and the desperate laborers who fought against the inevitable. 

Blake. A brilliant weirdo.

It is the story of Lucy Derrick, once a spoiled child of privilege, now just another powerless woman to be bought and sold on the marriage market.  But Lucy finds herself drawn into a world in transition, where the belief in traditional magic meets the pitiless science of capitalism and where the cold philosophy of Adam Smith meets the boundless hope of romanticism.   As powerful forces wrestle over Lucy’s future, she finds herself at the center of one of the great cultural shifts in European history, pursued by Lord Byron, and in pursuit of a mad visionary named William Blake who holds the key to her future.  The Darkening Green is an adventure, a romance, and a meditation on the idea of magic and the nature of belief.

So, what now, you may wonder.  Well, remember when I told you about the “illustrated novel” I was doing for indie comics publisher Radical, and you then forgot all about it?  Well, it’s time to remember again, because that is now my number one job.  I am also working on two projects for Marvel, neither of which I can tell you about because they have not been announced.  Once they are, I will tell you plenty.  I also have two short stories due before the end of the year. So no worries, I am keeping busy.

Then, this weekend, it’s Thrillerfest.  I hope to update my blog with lots of photos of famous novelists acting drunk and silly.

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