this is about six months too late and I actually got scooped,
by myself, on
I was on book tour in the US earlier this year, and this meant staying
in a lot of fancy hotels. In Seattle it was the Alexis, which is apparently
frequented by authors so, uh, frequently, that it has a special room
for them: the “Author’s Suite.” This, I assumed, was a dingy sub-basement
hole where people could yell down things like, “Max, don’t forget to do
the washing,”* but no: it was swish as. The hotel asked (oh, how politely
they asked) every visiting author to sign a copy of their novel, and
the walls of the Author’s Suite were fairly groaning with these. I had
lots of fun hunting down copies of some of my favorite books, and was
especially happy to find a Fight Club. Chuck Palahniuk is one
of my top two modern authors (the other is Neal Stephenson); I don’t
see much resemblance between Chuck’s stuff and mine, but am very happy whenever
someone else does. By the time I left,
this is what the Author’s Suite
copies of Fight Club and Jennifer Government looked like.
* (I actually wrote that and thought, “Crap, I have a load of washing in
the machine.” I had to go and get it out before I could finish
the blog. Yes, my life is that glamorous.)
Is it a good idea to sell a book to a publisher, then extensively
re-write it? The marketer in me says, “No.” (Also, “Put pop-up
ads on NationStates!”) But that’s pretty much what I’ve done
with Company. At first I was just going to do a little
tweaking: snip a sub-plot here, pat down a character foible there,
that kind of thing. But the more I re-wrote, the more I saw that
needed re-writing. Then, before I knew it, I had a new second half
to the book.
(Of course, when I say, “before I knew it,” I’m using artistic
license. No-one actually ends up with a novel “before they knew it.”
I’m always seeing this in movies: someone decides to write a novel
and two weeks later they’re typing THE END into a laptop at
Starbucks and exhaling in satisfaction. Two weeks! I can’t get
a sentence right in two weeks. Also, I hate people who write
novels at Starbucks. And people who exhale in satisfaction in
public; them too. So you can see why this annoys me.)
This is something of an addiction of mine; I’m always throwing
out the last half of novels and trying again. I never intend it;
I just get obsessed with improving things.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, if you ignore the fact that I’m
spending enormous chunks of time writing bits of novels only
to cut them later
(which I try to). But now I’ve done
it to a book a publisher has already bought,
and, presumably, thought was pretty good.
So I’ve confessed to Bill, my editor. As I e-mailed in the
new draft, I put the question to him: am I a hard-working,
committed author, or just some kind of idiot? He replied:
It depends on what you’ve done. If it’s turned into a searing
portrait of the artistic struggles of male ballet dancers,
I shall not be pleased.
He’s reading the draft now. There are no ballet dancers. But
I’ll have to wait and see what he thinks.
received a bunch of foreign-edition Jennifer Governments
lately, which is always cool. There’s a Finnish version called
Valtiovalta, a wicked little
called something your computer probably doesn’t have the correct font
to display, and, my favorite, an Italian
The groovy thing about that is they’ve gone with the original cover
re-shot it for no apparent reason.
It’s the 1998 Psycho of book covers.
And speaking of covers… and… um… posters, this thing to the left
comes courtesy of
who responded to
Fark.com challenge: “Photoshop a scene from the next
movie that Hollywood will make that butchers a good book.” Oh yeah!
(Now I know I’m going to get mail about this otherwise, so
for clarity: no, Drew Barrymore has not been cast in the movie. This is
just one guy’s amusing vision of hell.)
I’m grateful and completely humbled by the response to my last post.
The overwhelming kindness I’ve received from so many people has made
an awful time much more bearable. I’m truly touched and amazed.
Dad’s funeral is on Tuesday. It will be a simple, private service,
as he wanted. Those who were close to him will help each other deal
with the shock of his death,
and, more importantly, celebrate his life. I’m thinking of
telling a story about Dad’s running. He was a mad keen runner for
the last 20 years of his life, even completing a bagful of marathons.
But the memory that sticks in my mind is when he competed in a fun
run around what I think was a national park. I was about ten,
and course the most important thing in the world at that age
is that your Dad is better than all the other Dads. So
I loitered around the finish line with a certain trepidation. And
then, bursting out of the trees—there he was! Pounding toward
us, scattered applause breaking out, he crossed first… and kept
running. He’d decided the course was too short, and
he went around again.
To me, this was the most heroic thing that had happened in the world
I was enormously lucky to have this man as my father, and on Tuesday
I will give thanks for that.