Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Listen up, out there. TG has been telling you in these pages the secrets of how Big Time writers crank out their boatloads of thrillers, year after year. Yes, much of it is crap, but like the old saying goes, much of everything is crap. As a man who has read more than anyone's fair share of thrillers, TG can reduce the formula for success to a couple of sentences: What readers want in a thriller or pretty much any genre novel, is a story that follows the rules of the genre, and adds something different. Easy, no?
The first part, following the rules, can be learned easily enough. You just have to read long and hard into the genre you intend on working. But you'd be surprised how many writers sound like unoriginal dopes because they don't bother doing their homework and turn out novels that have all the elements that have been done to death. TG has found that the most egregious sinners here are European writers who get published in this country by swinish publishers trying to ride on a European best seller and reader be damned if it's a copy of what's already been done in the US, or by stupid publishers who are trying to capitalize on the thriller genre's successes in recent years. For whatever reason, TG always, always, gives these boring, copycat thrillers a shit review. So beware, publishers. These unoriginal books are also often written by “insiders' who are ex-spies or worked at NSA or some other government organization, now retired. Publishers are suckers for these people and pay them chests of money for the possibility of something new, and 95% of the time the result is, yes, you guessed it, just more of the aforementioned crap. Why? Because there are no more editors who actually edit, rather than just acquire. But don't get me started, that's another blog for another time.
Then there are the writers who get it right. TG recently reviewed Sanctus, by Simon Toyne. Billed as the first in a trilogy, TG found it perfectly fine as it dealt with all the familiar elements of the religious artifact thriller. Set in the fictional city of Ruin in modern day Turkey, within the ancient halls of a church called the Citadel, carved out of a mountain, inhabited by cowled monks, blah blah blah, a young woman who comes to the church to find her long lost brother, a secret that will change the world, blah blah blah, yes, yes, fine, just get to the damn secret that's going to change the world. You see, there's always a secret that's going to change the world.
Here's the thing. If a book promises one of these world-changing secrets or weapons, or villains, then TG had better be surprised when the big reveal is, well, revealed. TG has read them all. TG knows that right now, even as we speak, someone is penning another thriller, probably in France, where it's going to turn out that there's evidence that Jesus Christ was just a regular guy who didn't really rise from the dead, didn't cure the lame and the halt, and didn't rise up to heaven in a blast of glorious trumpets, and of course the Catholic Church has to suppress this evidence, so they send some coldly efficient madman who whips himself with scourges, pokes holes in his hands, wears wires around his balls or some other nutty religious nonsense, to kill the hero and his girlfriend. And what always happens is this nutter is defeated by the hero and then here comes a landslide or a flood or an avalanche and the evidence is lost forever. Snore. Wake me when the last page is turned. And this is just one of the many tropes that have been written over and over by people -- TG hesitates to call them writers -- who are attempting so suck off some of Dan Brown's money. They are legion, and TG curses their names.
So, OK, TG is reading along in Sanctus, having a pretty good time, Toyne is staying in the thriller boundaries and the writing is good, when he gets to his big reveal. When it comes, well, picture one of those comic book illustrations of surprise where the character's jaw drops to the ground and the eyes bug out like they're on springs. Yup, that's TG to a T. The surprise, the Big Secret in Sanctus, was something the jaded, seen-it-all writer and reviewer known as Thriller Guy has NEVER thought of and COULD NEVER have thought of. Yes, TG is aware that he's shouting. That's how surprised he was. Enough to even employ an exclamation point, and you know how TG feels about exclamation points.
YOW! TG gulped. He sure didn't see that one coming.
So here's the deal. The publisher has slung a free hardback copy of the book TG's way and he's now going to send it to one of you lucky readers out there in blogreaderland. For the first person who gets me a new follower, (those are the gang of folks on the right hand side of the blog,) TG is going to send a copy of Sanctus. Then they can write in and tell us if they were as surprised as TG was. Or they can tell us that TG is full of crap and doesn't know shit from Shinola. (Do folks out there even know what Shinola was?) So sign someone up and let TG know. When the little ticker over the Follower section goes up by one, we'll have our winner. If there's a tie, I've actually got a couple of these books. So keep checking in on the Comment section under this blog. Let me know when you've signed someone up, TG will respond in the Comments and then you can send him your address in an email.
What a deal, a 26.95 book. Who sez TG doesn't love ya?
Posted by Allen Appel at 3:33 PM