Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"I'd listen to him read the phone book aloud"

There's an old-fashioned compliment to actors--"I'd listen to him read the telephone book aloud" that I first heard applied to Richard Burton.

The version I apply to writers is: I'm enchanted by their dedication and acknowledgements page.

In honor of the publication day of TRICKSTER by Jeff Somers, here's what reminded me of that compliment recently:

Every novel has a team of people behind it. First of all, and most important, there is the author, the person who actually wrote it, that is to say, me.

 I’d like to start off by thanking myself for all those poor decisions in life that have conspired in complex and unknowable ways to bring me to this junction in my life.

Behind every author is a person who whispers encouragement and dire threats in his ear as he writes, and for me that person is and has been my lovely wife, Danette, to whom I owe everything and who knew I would sell this book, this book you are now holding in your hands, even before I had actually written it— such are the powers my wife possesses. —Let’s see how many commas I can squeeze in here, want to? Commas are fun, and underappreciated, much like writers.

Every author, the guy who actually writes the book, that is, me, has someone in a windowless room somewhere collecting the pennies that cascade in from our crime syndicates and book sales, and also who buys the author drinks, and that person is my redoubtable literary agent, Janet Reid.

Every author, that is, the guy who actually writes the book, which is to say, me again, needs hooligans who tempt him from serious work and encourage him to consume adult beverages in lieu of pious labor, and my hooligans—aside from my aforementioned literary agent, who on many occasions incapacitated me with drink when I should have been home tapping words into a hard disk—were fellow authors Sean Ferrell and Dan Krokos, who so often suggested I spend my time drinking curated whiskeys while viewing Internet celebrity gossip sites, supposedly in an ironic manner, although I suspect the irony was a pose, as I really do enjoy celebrity gossip.

Above and beyond all of these, of course, Olympian and leviathan-like, stands the man who actually signs the contract that sends those pennies cascading to be collected in unused mason jars by my aforementioned literary agent on behalf of me, the author, the guy who actually writes the book, and that person is, of course, my editor, Adam Wilson, whose suggestions and ideas for this book were disturbingly intelligent and interesting, and I thank him for it while simultaneously becoming enraged that anyone might contribute something to my story that I myself did not think of.
Whenever I express these feelings of rage to my aforementioned literary agent she pours two glasses of good Scotch, and at first I think she’s going to have a belt with me but then I slowly realize these are medicinally intended for me. And she’s right, I feel lots better.

 Of course, that's Jeff Somers, from his new book TRICKSTER:

Praised by the Guardian for stories that are “exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining,” Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society.

Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own.

He’s grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren’t doing well, but they’re getting by. That is, until they find young Claire Mannice— bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car’s trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos.

Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they’ve uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality— and Lem just got in her way.


Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Excellent. I am now wildly excited about reading Trickster, as if I wasn't before. This has probably just convinced me that my wild excitement was entirely justified. :D Thanks!

Elisabeth Black said...

That made me laugh out loud. I can't wait to read Trickster.

Heather Hawke said...

*Opens wallet to let pennies spill out*

french sojourn said...

Another card of immortality for your deck.


kregger said...

I've already have the drinking part down pat.

Holds out mason jar.

"What am I missing..."

Taps chin with index finger, shrugs.

"More booze, I guess. Where's my keys?"

Angelica R. Jackson said...

WOW--I've certainly read novels that make me want to write at a higher level, but never an acknowledgement! Thanks for sharing--I think I'll be bidding in my own auction when this goes up on Pens for Paws with Sean Ferrell's Man in the Empty Suit.

Carol W. said...

Fabulous, witty and laugh out loud awesomeness! And that's just the acknowledgment. Looking forward to the TRICKSTER!

Papillon crew said...

...and so we're going to have a contest to win Trickster, right? Please? Because my copy of The Electric Church is starting to fall apart and I need some new Somers.

Michael Seese said...

That is touching, through the humor.

Elissa M said...

Yes, blogging about your clients' books does translate to sales. I live 100+ miles from the nearest bookstore and am desperate for something new to read.

People say bad things about internet sales over in-person book buying, but I'd be unable to buy almost anything without it. And now Mr. Somers has yet another sale because of the power of the internet.

Carolynn with 2Ns said...

Ya know...it sounds as though a few years back those three guys and you would have been sweating in a Havana bar and sucking on a few Sancho Panza Belicosos.

Janet Reid said...

What do you mean "would have?"


Lindsay said...

The acknowledgments are great. The blurb is also great. Is it possible that's (a possibly cleaned-up version of) his original query?

Janet Reid said...

Hi Lindsay,
This is Jeff's seventh published book, so he doesn't write queries any more. He meets me in a bar, tells me what he wants to write, and then we drink ourselves under the table.

It's a very scientific process.

Lindsay said...

Ah, that makes sense, thanks! I can get behind this method. Possibly even under it.