Friday, August 23, 2013

Allen Appel

Thriller Guy is taking off for a week and won't be able to blog so he has a few suggestions on how to occupy your visits to this site. First, you might cast back into the archives and find any entries that you may have missed. If you're still mourning Elmore Leonard, check out the first couple of entries where Elmore commented on one of TG's rants. If you haven't read enough articles on Leonard's passing, here's an interesting one by a guy writing in Road and Track magazine about how he learned to hot wire a car from a Leonard book... 

Plus, there are plenty of tips in the archives for those of you who are writing or contemplating writing a thriller or any other book. TG is going to soon start his long awaited Sit Down, Shut Up and Get To Work, the definitive work on the subject.

And why not cruise over to Allen Appel's many eBooks as listed on Amazon. TG is sure you'll find some great reads at bargain prices. Start your odyssey into the world of Alex Balfour, time traveler, with Time After Time, priced at a paltry $.99 or if you've read through the entire series (plus the never-published Sea of Time) you can go to the stand-alone first of a projected series featuring the young Abe Lincoln as a detective. Then there are three terrific novella written around the theme of chickens. TG bets you don't think anyone could write about such a prosaic subject and turn out suspense fiction and heartwarming stories of this order.

So have fun in the archives, show your support by reading Appel's fiction, and TG will see you in a week or so.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elmore Leonard R.I.P.

Comment in from Dan Stashower, writer: "The guy never dropped a stitch, tried new things in his last years, still appeals to young hip readers.  Amazing."

Thriller Guy agrees. Take the day off everyone.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

More Shades of Grey: The Husband

Thriller Guy reviewed E. L. James Fifty Shades of Grey some months ago, saying that he
thought the book was perfectly good and that all the literary types who were savaging the writing were pretty much jealous ninnies who were full of crap. Harsh words perhaps, but steady readers of this blog know by now that TG doesn’t pull his punches and if namby-pamby literary types get beat up in the process, so be it, that’s just the way TG rolls. So when one of TG’s legion of readers passed along a recommendation for the website and blog written by James’ husband, Niall Leonard, TG took a look and agreed: he’s a funny, talented guy. Leonard is a long-time UK television scriptwriter with an impressive resume. He recently published a YA crime novel called Crusher, which has received nice reviews. On Leonard’s blog and website he pretty much sticks with his own views and business, but there are a few entries about what it is like being Mr. E.L. James. One of them was written as a piece for The Guardian and can be found here.

Niall Leonard’s website can be found here. Check it out for his blog and his excellent writing advice. He aims it mostly at screenwriters, but much of it applies to novel writing as well. To get you started, here’s the first paragraph of his funny piece in The Guardian, mentioned above, which can be found on his blog as well.

“If on entering your local bookshop you can find your way past the teetering stacks of EL James' Fifty Shades trilogy, you might come across a slim new crime novel, Crusher. That one's mine. Perceptive reviewers have noted that the hero's father, Maguire, is an embittered Irish hack consumed with envy of his peers. That must be you, they insist. What modern novelist doesn't envy EL James, the 40-something TV executive and mother of two who has outsold Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson, turbo-boosted the turnover of UK bookshops, and left men the world over begging for less sex and more sleep? But my book is a gritty urban murder mystery; Fifty Shades is an erotic romantic fantasy, and I couldn't have written it in a million years. I'm the least romantic fecker that ever lived – ask my wife Erika, aka EL James. Our first Christmas together I bought her a tin opener, and my earliest experience of kinky sex was her trying to shove it up my arse...”

Like TG said, he’s a funny guy. Do TG a favor, somebody out there read his novel Crusher and let us know what it’s like.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Big Secret Revealed

In this week’s Reaper Report, Thriller Guy is sad to note the passing of Leighton Gage, who
died a couple of days ago. Leighton wrote a series of crime thrillers about a Brazilian cop, Chief Inspector Maria Silva. The books were/are tough, Silva’s ethics elastic, and the Brazilian setting is absolutely original. TG blogged about the covers of his books a while ago, declaring them the best covers of a crime series in the business. He was an excellent writer and a very nice guy. RIP, Leighton Gage.

Back to business: In the last month the popular press has pumped out breathless articles about J. K. Rowling and the fact that she had written a crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, and published it under a pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. Whenever this happens – Stephen King did it famously years ago – normal people get all excited and offer speculation as to why a famous author would do such a thing. TG is not going to go over that ground because it’s stupid: she did it because she’s rich enough to do anything she damn well wants to do as a writer. The point was and is, when the book came out Robert Galbraith received fabulous reviews and sold jack shit in the UK and in the US. And by jack shit (please don’t send TG angry comments about not capitalizing the J in Jack. It’s a close call.) TG means 1,500 copies in the UK and 4,800 copies in the US. Pitiful. Even TG’s alter ego Allen Appel’s novels sell better than that. But when it was discovered that the novel was actually by Rowling, the book shot to the top of the bestseller lists and is selling in the gazillians.

So what does this mean, Thriller Guy?

Mostly it means that much of the reading public is made up of morons who buy books for reasons that have little or no relation having to do with intelligence. Most of them don’t buy books because they might be good, they buy them because the author is famous or infamous or has some other exciting non-publishing attraction. But we already knew that, didn’t we?

The thing that struck TG, and the real point of this blog, was the quote way down the page in one of the stories where some publisher who turned down the book when it was submitted to her, said something like (as always, TG is too lazy to look up the actual quote) “Yes, the book was well written, and yes it was exciting, and yes it was a good mystery, but sometimes a book has to be more than that.” What the lady means is that publishers don’t give a rat’s ass about a book being well written, exciting and a good example of the genre, they just want a hook to hang it on so the fickle public will have a reason to buy it. This is known in the business as “Having a platform.” And the author being famous is the platform they know and love best. If they could only get Britney Spears to write a crime thriller they’d be in heaven.

TG is aware that you, gentle reader, have heard him rant about this before.

Seriously, 4,800 copies sold. TG supposes that sales might have been particularly small because Galbraith, not being a real person and all, wasn’t Twittering or putting his info on Facebook. I’m sure Rowling didn’t want to carry the game that far, though it would have been a lot more interesting had she done so. One of the reasons she didn’t Twitter and Facebbok was that it is a huge pain in the ass to do the sort of social marketing that popular wisdom insists that authors now must do. There’s a funny/sad article on Salon titled Hell is Self Promotion where fiction novelist Sean Beaudoin recounts the pain and misery of having to continually self-promote himself and his books because his publishers aren’t going to spend any money doing so. (Allen Appel agrees with everything Sean has to say and has felt his pain.) All publishers have time to do these days is sit around and rend their garments and whine about how the business has gone to hell, which it has. And why has it gone to hell? Because they arrogantly missed the digital revolution while clinging to the tattered remnants of their 19th century models of doing business. And now they insist that it is the author’s responsibility to make up their lack of acuteness and foresight by doing all their work for them. Most of the big guys, anyway. There are now small independent publishers who are jumping in where the majors are too stupid to tread and selling books and making money. Good for them and the writers who self-publish and self-promote who are also making money.

So all you folks who are interested in literature or maybe just a good read, get out there and buy a book today, and buy it from a writer or an independent publisher. Do a good deed.

Now here’s a secret. God, TG really didn’t want to have to leak this, but here goes: All of Allen Appel’s books were actually written by James Patterson. Yup. Patterson used this subterfuge to see if readers would love his books if they didn’t have his name on them.

Sorry, Jim, it turns out that readers won’t buy your books without your name on them.

But don't worry, your secret is safe with Thriller Guy.