Thursday, June 03, 2010

Vampires Uber Alles

I'm always astonished to see news of my alma mater way up here in New England, so imagine my surprise when I read a laudatory NYT article about making-a-big-splash with his new vampire novel Rice University professor Justin Cronin.    

In my craziest musings, I can't imagine getting $3.75 mil for 3 books  and 1.75 mil for the film rights.  At this stage, it's hard to imagine getting a book published, much less a huge advance.  Rice has also produced Larry McMurtry and several other novelists including the late William Corrington. Cronin was formerly a so-called literary writer who has made the switch to "genre."   Mr. Cronin remarked in his interview that "literary is shorthand for appreciated and commercial is shorthand for sells."  That is a pretty clever definition.  He plotted the book with his then nine-year old daughter.  Kids have great imaginations.

Oh yeah--the name of Cronin's book is The Passage and apparently the vampires are not "sensitive."  Cronin has not read Stephanie Meyers which breaks a rule that you should always read deeply in your genre.  He members watching Dark Shadows, which was a soap that I sometimes watched when bored out of my mind by young-momhood.  Excrement occurs. 

A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with a younger friend who is shopping around her second novel and had recently received some good feedback from her agent.  She asked me if belonging to all these writing organizations--MWA, Sisters in Crime, etc. was helpful.  I mentioned networking, yada yada.  She asked if other writers read my work.  I had to confess that only my writing group reads my work, because an unwritten rule is that you would never dream of asking a published writer to read your work.  It just isn't done. Like asking someone on the tennis circuit to hit a few balls.  You have to pay for workshops, etc. where you might get  5-10 pages critiques, but no, I don't ask writers to read my work.  Critique groups will read your work.   Apparently in the literary genre, where she writes, people exchange manuscripts all the time.  I felt a soupcon of envy.  No, I felt a tsunami of envy. Are "literary writers" more supportive than genre writers?  Something to consider. Would YOU ask a "real" writer to read your work? In my very early days of writing, I tried that a couple times and the results were, well, they were humiliating.  Actually, it's very hard to have a literary agent, whose business it is, read one's writing.  They pass judgement on a page or two.  Or perhaps their assistants do.  Snap judgments abound.  Well, it's a hard business.  The head of a mega publishing house got sacked today.  They brought someone in who had a better knack for picking best sellers. 

On the boob tube, I miss Damages, Mad Men, Big Love and now The Good Wife.  Can the Red Sox make up for all that drama?  Just finished a wonderful book, a memoir by Gerald Durrell about spending a couple years with his family on Corfu.  His brother Lawrence of Alexandria Quartet fame was a drama queen and a royal pain.  The book was delightful.  My Family and Other Animals. Get a copy if you can.  Won't disappoint if you like nature writing and nutty families. His writing is excellent.  The whole family had talent.  Some great minor characters, too, both human and animal.

Onward, and listening to the beat of the different dummer, maybe even doin' a little dance.


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