Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dazed and Confused in New York

by David Ellis

I’m going to throw out some thoughts I’ve had. I hope you find them interesting. Even more so, I hope I haven’t already made these points in a recent post, because I tend to block out what I’ve previously written.

  1. Just went to ThrillerFest in New York. Had a good time. A few notes:
  • The glass ceiling has been broken at the ITW awards banquet, the women having swept the major awards (including, of course, our own Jamie Freveletti). I don’t know this myself, but I have been informed that women have rarely even received nominations for ITW awards in the past, so this is a significant occurrence.
  • Marcus didn’t buy me a drink as he promised. Actually, he didn’t promise, and to be fair, I didn’t give him much of a chance.
  • Marcus is pretty popular at these things.
  • A watered-down vodka tonic at the Grand Hyatt lounge costs $14.
  • LeBron made a huge mistake doing that special and not choosing the Bulls.
  • Saw my old friend Raymond Benson, and at one point his lovely wife Randi. Great to see them. Reminded me of a dinner at his house many years ago, when Raymond, Joe Konrath and I, along with our spouses, were talking about the ups and downs of the industry, how you break out, how you stay on top, etc.—the kind of conversation each of us writers have had about a thousand times. Randi made a comment that, okay, maybe none of us were living in a mansion in Beverly Hills, but Raymond had managed to make a perfectly comfortable living doing what he loved, and that’s pretty cool, isn’t it? I try to remember that story.
  • A lot of authors are very worried.
  • You hear people talk about the loss of the middle class in our society, and some fear we are witnessing the loss of the midlist author—you’re either one of the chosen ones or you’re brand new and still holding that promise. I happen to believe that’s not true, or at least that trend will change. But unlike my colleagues at the Outfit, who back up their industry analysis with statistics, I only have my gut. The platform will always be there. We just might have to adjust.
  • I love being a novelist, and I love talking about writing with other writers.

2. I’ve learned to dare myself when I write. Put my character into a corner—a corner that, as I’m writing, I have absolutely no idea how he’ll extricate himself. And then figure it out. You can always figure it out. It only took me six novels to discover this.

3. I know we live in a world of attention deficit disorder, and publishers want to see you get to the point quickly, shorten the chapters, all that stuff—but I’m continually reminded of the benefit of detail in a novel. Little throwaway details can add so much to a setting. This is nothing earth-shattering—I pride myself on being master of the obvious, as well as master of my domain—but a healthy reminder.

4. In the time it has taken you to read this post, Joe Konrath has sold 100 E-books.

5. I really don’t want to start Twittering (notice, Bryan, I didn’t say “tweeting”). But I have a feeling I’m going to some time soon.

6. I don’t really get the E-book thing. It works for a guy like Joe, who had like ten unpublished manuscripts sitting in his drawer that he could cart out, as well as a maddening ability to write stories, long and short, in very short time spans. I don’t work that way. Some people think Joe’s an anomaly. Some people think they should all follow his lead, others don’t. I would greatly appreciate it if someone else could figure this out for me and let me know. I guess I’ll be calling Libby soon ….

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