So New York Times bestselling author Harlan and I were hanging last night in a Boston-area bookstore, chewing the cud, shooting the sh**, talking about books and publishing, you know, like old writing buds do whenever they get together.
He’s in Boston tonight, and of course he called me a couple of weeks ago to say that I had to come to his interview at a local theatre, and then to a book signing across the street. I brought my mother and best friend with me so he’d sell at least three books.
He’s just written a new thriller, his 25th. Given that he’s written so many, maybe this time he’ll get it right. Keep hope alive, I always say.
Harlan knows that I’m an expert on getting great publicity, so he asked me for my ideas about how to promote his book. Then he suddenly clapped his hand on his forehead like he was a total dummy and said, “Your blog! The perfect place!”
He’s quite right, of course, considering I have over 4 kajillion readers. Maybe with my help he can get on better bestseller lists than the one in the Paducah shopping mall, or the one on the site, “I really like this book,” which I believe goes to around 30 people in the quilting circle at Shepard of the Hills Lutheran Church in Duluth, Minnesota. There’s only so much I can do, but we can hope!
He said he couldn’t do this without me, but hey, I like to help aspiring writers, especially ones who work as hard as my friend Harlan.
I happened to mention to him that I needed to find a new agent since my previous one, the wonderful Bob Lescher, passed away, and he of course said I should try his agent, so I told him that I queried her two weeks ago and was waiting to hear back. He told me that she turns everyone down, even writers he recommends to her.
I didn’t want to say this to him, but of course she turns down writers he sends her way! But what I was thinking was that his agent doesn’t know ME (yet) and I’ve got talent up the whazoo, but of course I didn’t say this since he’s such a nice guy and, as I said, he works so hard.
Did I already tell you that he’s a mensch?
Harlan has just published Missing You, which I haven’t read yet but will soon. He said it’s darker than his previous books, and righteously scary. The protagonist is short and female; in his previous thriller the protagonist was tall and male. He likes to mix things up, he says, do the opposite of what he did before.
Well, whatever. Try the scattershot approach, and maybe something’ll hit, is all I can say.
If he ever hits the big-time I’ll tell him he’s got to upgrade his wardrobe, get out of the oversized shirt, jeans, and Keds without laces and into a nice pair of Dockers and a dress shirt so he looks like a real writer.
One thing he said in the interview is that the thing that all writers have to have is empathy. I know, I know! If there’s anything anyone would say about me, it’s that I have too much empathy! Just thinking about how it is for Harlan to struggle so much with his books just makes my heart bleed for him, and if that’s not empathy, I don’t know what is!
Harlan also mentioned in the interview that he really loved his parents, who died relatively young.
If you read his Myron Bolitar books, you’ll see a man who lives in his parents’ basement and adores his mother and father. If you have kids yourself and/or if you’re just overflowing with empathy like I am, you will find this almost unbearably heartwarming that your kids might one day feel this way about you!
A mensch indeed. Go buy his book. Believe me, it’ll thrill him like nothing else! And tell the bookstore manager that I sent you.
My next job is to try to help another writer, Lee Child. He’s been stumbling around for quite a while, but I’m sure I can get him on the right path.
Okay, I have to admit: he and I had a little “thing” a couple of years back. We kept it pretty hush-hush, but I guess he couldn’t keep his emotions in check when he signed my book:
I hope he’s gotten over me! He really needs to concentrate on his writing, not pine for me. Maybe, if he works hard enough, his books will take off. Who knows what might happen, in this crazy business of writing and publishing? I wish Harlan and Lee all the best. As I said, I’ll do all I can for them.