Ahh, but wouldn't you know: application of the salty salve was barely underway when the rogue swordsman known as Deadly D upended the haycart (farewell, my Florence Nightengale!) and held me at knifepoint, backing me dextrously toward the mouth of an open-air sewer.
My first impulse was to say--yea, kind sir, tell me: who did take the credit? Does it not always (and rightly) belong to the author himself? Worse, I nearly began to argue on behalf of the loathsome publisher--after all, had they not stood by Mr. Rankin for seven books despite what D. had described as "low sales"? Is that not worth something? But I bit my tongue, knowing that, otherwise, I'd wind up drowning offally, or with a cut throat.
nice move, max [quoth he]. you side-stepped the riot. only your pie-proof rankin hardcover has roots in the other story. seven books in, low sales, a handful of readers in public libraries, and rankin's editor decided to drop him off the side in a cost-effective re-shuffle. a timely golden dagger award...and guess who took the credit?
So instead I said:
D. was reluctant, having earlier witnessed (nay, anticipated) my hay-wagon escape; but the gentleman eventually granted my request. He tied (and loosely enough, causing no more pain than was necessary) a yoke about my hands and led me up the hill; whereupon a handsome if unshaven fellow did emerge, squinting into the late afternoon sun; and, after hearing the nature of our debate, did admit himself to be IAN RANKIN, and, being somewhat knowledgeable on the subject, he had this to say:
Forsoothe, Gallant D.--spare me a moment longer, for I believe the man who knows the truth lives in the straw hut just up the close [translator's note: that's "alley" in American]--on Scrivener's Block, I believe they call't? If we find Good Man Rankin home, perhaps we can sort this out without further harm?
I was honored (and relieved, now that my hands had been unbound) that Ian Rankin himself would speak so freely; and Dexter, too, seemed satisfied; and soon we three were tossing down tankards of ale and clapping each other on the back; and later, after dark--wouldn't you know it, a Mr. Smith emerged from his hut, and a Ms. Rowling from hers, and we sat round a great fire telling tall tales and drinking a peaty single-malt and toasting the likes of Peter Robinson and Michael Connelly and...well, the list was long, but my recollection isn't.
"I don't think my editor took much of the credit... but it's true that when I delivered BLACK AND BLUE, knowing in my heart that it was a meatier, altogether better book than my previous outings, my publishers saw it as 'just another Rebus'. By that time I was seen as mid-list, selling a few thousand from book to book, but not growing fast enough to make me worth promoting. However, my agent campaigned on the book's behalf, and my publisher eventually put some marketing money behind the book, as well as introducing a new livery which worked so well we're still using it (and being copied by every second crime novel coming out of the UK, it sometimes seems)...
"The book was to be published mid-January, and on Jan 2nd there was a review in the London Times which said 'There won't be a better crime novel published this year'. That gave me a real thrill. The book got further rave reviews and sold
moderately well (I think it was my first hardcover to go into a reprint). Still didn't make the UK top ten, but got close. Come November, it won the Gold Dagger, and the paperback went on to sell four times as many copies as my previous efforts. My next hardcover scraped into the UK top ten... and my publishers decided they really did like me after all.
"Prior to this (my editor later confided) she'd been fighting my corner, as her bosses wanted me dumped. Their point was: they'd laid out money on me, tried marketing me and touring me, and I was staying resolutely mid-list... so why not release me and let someone else take a shot?
"I am still with my publisher; still use the same editor. In fact, when she left the company, I asked her to keep me on in a freelance capacity. She's a good editor."
...and when I awoke, I was back in the 21st century, with the residue of several shaving-cream pies still on my face, and sand in my hair, and I wondered where I was and whether any of this had really happened...had Dexter and I really been transported, somehow, to some back-in-time Edinburgh? Had we really drank into the wee-hours with...no, it wasn't possible, it must've been a dream....
Then I reached into my pocket and found a print-out of several emails...
"the story about the murder in my neighbourhood is entirely true - first murder in this 'toney' suburb for around sixty years, and happens six months after I cross the tracks from Deadville..."
[signed] Ian Rankin
"Writing is considered a profession, and I don't think it is a profession. I think that everyone who does not need to be a writer, who thinks he can do something else, ought to do something else. Writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness. I don't think an artist can ever be happy."
PRACTICAL MARKETING [Courtesy Zornhau, 2005]
"They should put the 1st couple of pages up in subway adverts. Having read them several times, you'd feel compelled to try the book - if it was any good."
PLATE OF SHRIMP [Courtesy Alex Cox’s REPO MAN, circa 1984]
"A lot of people don't realize what's really going on. They view life as a bunch of unconnected incidences and things. They don't realize that there's this like lattice of coincidence that lays on top of everything. I'll give you an example, show you what I mean. Suppose you're thinking about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly somebody will say like "plate" or "shrimp" or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in looking for one either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness."
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- I [heart] IAN RANKIN!
- Riot Gear to the Ready
- There's No Accounting for Taste; or: "'Subjectivit...
- Did I say that? Really?
- sober dope. :-(
- Advancing the Notion of (...ahem...) Realistic Adv...
- "The Majority List": Agents Join the (Midlist) Fr...
- Hotdogs, Chickenhawks, Mustard & Cream: Two Editor...
- 'Does a rose by any other name....' Further cons...
- The Tortoise and the Hare...In Which We Attempt To...
- Holy Grail According to Max
- PAPERBACK WRITER: Vol. I of the Collected Response...
- YOUNG TURKS & OLD FARTS
- Young Turks
- Old Farts*
- "Hail the Litblogs"
- BEST OF BLANK: End-of-Year Ruminations & New Year ...
- 1. The Making of Lists
- 2. Data [Variety=Raw; Grade=Low]
- 3. Conclusions? Just As We Feared...
- 4. Industry Folk: A New Year's Wish
- ▼ January (22)