By David Heinzmann
So my first novel, A WORD TO THE WISE, is published Wednesday. My wife asked me today what I wanted to do to celebrate. But I’m so anxious and nervous about it that the idea of celebrating the actual publication date hadn’t really crossed my mind. The other thing I thought about was a little gem of reality that my agent, Jeff Gerecke, gave me a few years ago when he took me on with this manuscript. In our first conversation when he told me he thought this book was good enough for him to represent, he said: Get ready to be published; and then for nothing to happen.
As a journalist, that’s the sort of skepticism I find healthy.
But, in reality, plenty is happening. Earlier this year the charter members of the Outfit asked me to join them here. It has been a really rewarding and enriching experience. It has opened doors, given me an outlet for a style of writing that just doesn’t fly in my reporting for the Tribune, and on multiple occasions membership in the Outfit has provided people to drink with in situations that might otherwise have been awkward for my shy self.
Over the last few months I’ve met a bunch of wonderful writers, editors and publishers—at Bouchercon and smaller events. They’ve offered enormous support and great advice. I ginned up a website that carries my name (which still seems absurd), or rather I should say my generous and industrious brother-in-law, Joe Driscoll, ginned up a web site for me. I’ve seen A WORD TO THE WISE listed on Amazon and other vendor’s sites.
And the name Augustine Flood is no longer just an idea acting out my imagination in a scattered collection of computer files. He’s a character on the page trying to sort out a deadly mess during a bitter Chicago winter, unraveling the lies that bind a collection of desperate businessmen, unhappy spouses, mobsters and college kids. He’s somehow become real. At least that’s the idea.
It’s all sort of… unsettling. My reporting and writing has been published and delivered to hundreds of thousands of homes, thousands of times over the last fifteen years or so. You’d think I’d have a pretty thick skin. But this is different. This is my imagination, and my own view of the world. I hope readers like it. I hope they’ll come back for the next book.
With any luck, you’ll be hearing more about A WORD TO THE WISE over the next couple months. Barring some giant, schedule-crushing news event, I’ll be on WGN-AM 720 Wednesday morning at 8:10 talking to Greg Jarrett about the book. I’ve been on the WGN morning show many times over the years, usually talking about the latest real-life mayhem and scandal in Chicago. This time it will all be made up.
There will be other events and appearances on tap soon. I hope to see some fans of the Outfit there. I have some of the bases of self-promotion covered. Some others, I’m still getting there. (Hey, join the A WORD TO THE WISE fan page on Facebook—the charter members are lonely) Now if I can just commit my soul to Twitter, I’m sure everything will be fine. In the meantime, we’ll try to find a babysitter so my wife and I can go out Wednesday night to celebrate.