Mass appeal

I got a review earlier this year for The Night Charter I found interesting, if inaccurate (aren’t they always?), and I thought I’d share a bit of it with you before expanding on a point it raises. The reviewer wrote: “Unlike his earlier efforts which were more literary and took their time to lay character foundations and explore the socio-economic climate the characters functioned in, this novel is more stripped down with the seeming intent to deliver a more straight ahead crime novel to broaden his fan base.”

I’m going to cop to this one right now and say that, yes, The Night Charter is an attempt to broaden my fan base. Why? Because there simply aren’t enough people reading my hardcore crime fiction.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of you out there, and there were enough sales for Tequila Sunset and Missing to push them onto the bestseller list in the UK for a short while. But a writer can only cater to a specialized audience for so long before it becomes imperative to grow that fanbase. I had, and have, an expanding reputation as an author, because having four Dagger nominations in a row tends to do that, but it was pretty clear by the time Missing tanked in the US that I needed to take a new tack if I was ever going to be successful in my home country.

For whatever reason, and I have my suspicions, the Mexico novels never caught fire over here. In the UK they ate it up. In Germany and France they love my Mexico stuff. But in the US? I might as well toss my Mexico books directly into a river for all the good they’re doing me. That’s not me being dramatic, but me being perfectly straight with you. I am not a name in the United States, and if I kept going down that road I never would be.

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Repurposed

I’ve had this blog since 2010, which in blog terms is a really long time. Certainly some have been around significantly longer, but they represent about one percent of one percent. The majority of blogs go up, they get occasionally updated for a few months and then they die. The enthusiasm just isn’t there for day in, day out writing. It’s notable that blogs with a specific theme do better than those which generalize.

This blog generalizes.

I’ve had blogs before, and I’ve talked about what happened to those. I started this one because I wanted to talk about things which interested me while, at the same time, keeping people abreast of what was my nascent professional publishing career. I had this idea that there would be so much interesting stuff to talk about, I’d never run out of material. Oh, I was no naive.

The truth is that publishing is a long, dull, dragged-out affair that’s not of much interest to anyone outside the biz. The process of bringing a book to market is excruciatingly boring, and it takes such a long time that news comes out in barely a trickle. Hardly enough to fill five days a week of blogging goodness, that’s for sure.

Back in 2014 I’d come to something of an impasse. At that juncture I’d turned this blog into what for all practical purposes was a review site, featuring reviews of everything I read, watched and played. I did this because writing reviews is (sometimes) fun, but also because I had simply run out of things to talk about. I only had so much to say about the craft of writing and, as we’ve determined, publishing is so goddamned stultifying that it wasn’t filling the space. I needed something badly. And that’s when I hit on reviewing Miami Vice and The X-Files

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Time to think about autism

World Autism Awareness DayNormally I don’t blog on Saturdays, but I’m making an exception this year because today is World Autism Awareness Day. It’s the one day out of the year where people are asked to take a moment to consider a disorder which strikes one in 68 children. One in 42 boys and one in 189 girls. It’s an important day for me, as it is for millions of parents, and it ought to be important to you, too.

There are people who love to make fun of the mentally handicapped. Autism is an easy target because it’s become so common, but also because so few people understand what it is, what its symptoms are or, really, anything about the disorder at all.

But you’re reading this, and I’m going to assume you do care. And I’m glad you do, because this problem is going to take all of us to resolve. The kids with autism today will become the adults with autism tomorrow, and since the “deinstitutionalization” movement of the 1980s did away with the supports many mentally disabled people could count on to survive, these autistic adults are going to need to find a place in your community. In that community they’re going to need your care, your attention and, yes, your money, because without those things they’ll die.

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