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Accomplishment: Writer with a soft spot for animals - twelve dogs, a horse and a three legged cat, twenty six pigs and one very happy boar. In his spare time Giacomo headhunts for the biotech and medical device industry.
"Guy scouts talent for the biotech and medical device industry."
Sheri slammed down the bottle and rose from the chair. Her eyes were cold, the fire gone.
"But his books are damn good." I grinned. Giacomo was safe...for the moment.
Does bestseller mean good writer?
Absolutely, one-hundred percent...NO! This question I could go on for days about. Bestseller—if we're talking about actual sales in numbers—only means that a lot of people liked reading your book. It has nothing to do with whether it was written well, at least according to…someone…whoever decides these things.
Take the movies as an example. Transformers 3 did more than a billion dollars in sales worldwide. Does that mean it is a better movie than Inception? Not for me, but for others it must have been.
In books we have bestsellers like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight...are they better than other critically acclaimed ones? Who's to say?
So, on to the real question...what does good writer mean? Good writer to you might be a hack to me. I know that if I dig into my wife's bookshelf and select a book, the chances of me liking it are slim and none. The reverse is pretty much the same. She doesn't even read my books. Does that mean the authors she reads are not good—because I don't like them, or they didn't hit the bestseller list? Hell no. It simply means she likes them and I don't. Much like anything else. Some people like Chinese food; some like Italian; others like anything. Books are no different.
To agent or not to agent? Why or why not?
When you ask this question, you might as well ask, traditional publishing or self publishing. Why else would you need an agent? I know there are some self-published authors who have been successful and then signed an agent for representation. That's fine and they might be needed, but for the most part we're really talking traditional or not. With that in mind, I think it boils down to a personal decision for each author. Every person is different, not only regarding what they want to do, but their talents, their resources, and their level of commitment. All of this has to be taken into consideration.
It is very much like the craftsman. Take a bricklayer, or a carpenter, electrician, any of them. They have choices much like authors do.
• Go to work for the union
• Go to work for a non-union shop
• Go into business for yourself.
• Unions are like big publishing. Security, or perceived security. Good pay. Good benefits. Good hours.
• Non unions are similar to small publishers. Less security. Decent pay. Decent benefits. Decent hours.
• Starting your own company= self publishing. No security. Tremendous pay as long as you produce it. No benefits. Horribly long hours. The rewards, though, are the best.
Is self publishing the new 'slush-pile’?
I wouldn't say self publishing is the slush pile. I think that analogy is a little off. The slush piles are the distribution channels for ebooks. Amazon being the biggest player. Self publishers are just one of many contributing to the slush. I would throw traditional publishers in there with them.
It is readers who are now sloshing through the piles and determining what will sell and what won't. No longer is it controlled by a few big publishing companies. Readers don't care how a book is published. They just want a good read.
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future – and why?
Very optimistic. Although my mother always said I never saw the glass as anything but half full, or more. I think this will be looked upon in later years as the golden age of publishing. The revolution that brought about sweeping changes. Much like what happened in Silicon Valley in the 70s. This is an exciting time for writers and publishers.
Every writer has a weakness, what is yours?
I am sparse with description and with setting. Some people might find that a strength, others a weakness. I don't like reading works heavy with description, which is probably why I write that way, but I still wish I were a little better at it.
Is there an over-arching moral theme in your work, if so what?
When I think about the three different series I’ve written in the mystery genre, and the stuff I've written in fantasy, yes, there is definitely a theme. It is a theme of what is really right and wrong in the world, not necessarily what the law says is right or wrong.
Elmore Leonard listed ten rules, one of which is: 'Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. Think of what you skip reading a novel.' What rule or piece of advice would you add to the list, and if you know his ten rules, which one would you break?
As far as what I skip in novels, it is almost always the lengthy descriptions. I agree with all of his rules, with the exception of number 2. I think there is a place for prologues; in fact, sometimes I believe they are absolutely necessary. I can think way back to Robert Jordan's fantasy series. His first book had an excellent prologue. It caught my interest. The next 60 pages dragged. If it weren't for that prologue, I would have put the book down. It carried me that far. There have been other books that had great prologues, too. Most of them were fantasies, but they were needed. I don't agree with putting in a prologue for the sake of having one, but if it is needed to kickstart the action, put it in by all means.
Giacomo was talking, but for how long? His face was pale and beneath the sweat-tangled beard, his lips writhed like a pair of crazed worms. It was time to stop. I had the feeling Sheri wouldn't. Her maternal feelings crushed. "Okay, Giacomo. You've been a great guy. We have enough to be going on now."
Giacomo was tough. He'd survived the Rack but seemed oblivious to what I'd just saved him from. Sheri left a man gibbering with a kiss. More than that, a husk, a whim of the wind.
I slipped a fresh glass of bourbon into Miss Lamour's perfumed hand. Five fingers full. But Giacomo would be gone before the effect took hold. There'd be just Sheri and me - and a bottle more than half full.
Clay sends his best, Jim. Sheri's eyes lit up when you suggested it had been something of a pleasure.
Michael: Thanks for having me on "The Rack" though I never thought I'd say something like that. Lot of fun.