Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stupid, Like a Publisher & The Vagaries of Fate

The International Thriller Writers organization recently released their prizewinners at this year's Thrillerfest. They are:

Best Hard Cover Novel:
THE NEIGHBOR, Lisa Gardner
Best Paperback Original Novel:
THE COLDEST MILE, Tom Piccirilli
Best First Novel:
Best Short Story:

Also receiving special recognition during the ThrillerFest V Awards Banquet:

Ken Follett, ThrillerMaster
in recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.
Mark Bowden, True Thriller Award
Linda Fairstein, Silver Bullet Award
US Airways, Silver Bullet Award (Corporate)

Thriller Guy was stunned to see that he had not read or reviewed any of these books. How could this have happened? TG has no idea. Mistakes were obviously made somewhere. But TG assures one and all that these books are quite probably excellent, so put 'em on your list, Thriller Readers.

One name did strike a note with TG, and reminded him of a day many years ago...

TG's alter ego, Allen Appel has written many books, among them a little gem, From Father to Son: Wisdom for the Next Generation. This book, first published in 1993, was the originator of the entire genre of parenting gift books. It stayed in print for many years and sold quite well. In 2001, Appel was contacted by his editor at St. Martins, who were the publishers of the little book, and told that the NBC Evening News had asked them if they could run an interview with Appel as a Father's Day feature on June 11, the interview to be conducted at their studios in NY. Appel's editor and the marketing person at St. Martins (both were around 14 years old, or seemed so) in all their publishing wisdom decided that the cost of this venture – around $40.00 train fare – outweighed the possible results. So they had turned NBC down.

Unbelievable, no?

Appel informed the two idiots at St. Martins they were nuts, got on the phone to NBC and told them he would be glad to do the interview. They said fine.

Appel showed up at the studio at the appointed time and was whisked into the makeup chair and made to look fabulous. After makeup Linda Fairstein swept into the green room, accompanied by a posse of minders, assistants and marketing folk. At that time Fairstein was still the head of the sex crimes unit of the Manhattan District Attorney's office and had written three or four of her mystery series starring Manhattan prosecutor Alexandra Cooper. She was being interviewed about her most recent novel. Appel sat quietly, trying to choke down a very dry bagel while the Fairstein army, all of them in constant motion, barked orders on cell phones, studied sheafs of papers and held important whispered conversations with their boss who never removed her cell phone from her ear. No one even said hello.

The interview went off without a hitch. Appel held up his little book, chatted amiably and charmed the world.

That night, back at home, Appel and his family counted down the minutes to the Evening News.

Fifteen minutes before 7:00, Timothy McVeigh, the Kansas City Bomber was executed. Officials had not announced that the execution was eminent. The event led, and dominated the news show.

Appel's piece never ran. Actually, that's not true, a few weeks later a fan from Australia sent an email saying he had seen it on a program at three AM in the morning.

Linda Fairstein's piece probably ran somewhere. She has gone on to quit her job as a prosecutor and pen a total of 12 books in her extremely successful series.

Whenever TG is assigned one of her books he gives her a respectful, if not very enthusiastic review.


  1. Allen, I bet sales of your book increased greatly in the Australian insomniac demographic group after your interview. How funny and sad at the same time.

  2. I feel your pain, buddy, even after all these years. So close to the golden ring and then to be denied... When do the good guys get to win?