Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday assembly

OK, you may be sick of it, but you can always skip the first bit.

O.J.'s ghost

The Los Angeles Times has a piece on O.J.'s ghostwriter, Pablo Fenjves. In it, Fenjves is quoted as holding an opinion which has been voiced here from time to time.

When interviewed on KABC-AM radio show, Fenjves said that ghostwriting was the best of all worlds for a writer. It provided steady, lucrative pay and uncomplicated work. Another perk of the job, he said, was anonymity. (Normally, that is.)

For If I Did It, Fenjves was reputedly paid $100,000 for two to three months of work. (Link from Publishers Lunch.)

Meanwhile, Galleycat points out that Fenjves is interviewed in the latest New Yorker. So now he's gonna famous for fifteen minutes (again; he was a witness in the trial).

Galleycat also reports that Steven Zeitchik, in Variety, has news about the ownership of various O.J. project rights, which certainly interests me. The TV stuff, Zeitchik thinks, is owned by Fox, which will bury it three miles underground. (Shame.) But the book rights have reverted 'to the O.J. camp'. Which means O.J. can sell it on. And why not, from his point of view. He was, reportedly, due to earn no royalties from the Regan publication, but now it's a whole new world of opportunity.

He could do it on Lulu, if all else fails. Now that would be really interesting. I wonder if the Lulu guys have enough smarts to be on the phone to him.

Fenjves is in no doubt about the commercial success of If I Did It, when it appears. “It’s going to be bigger than ever,” he said. “It’s like ‘Ulysses,’ except without the talent.”

There is much speculation about the fate of Judith Regan. Am I alone in finding that woman very stimulating? In so far as a 67-year-old man can be stimulated.

Scarlett Thomas

There's an essay by Scarlett Thomas which is worth reading. (Link from M.J. Rose, who picked it up from Sarah Weinman.) The only problem with the damn thing is that it's white text on dark grey, which makes my head spin.

Scarlett wonders aloud about the differences between men and women in the publishing world. And also wonders whether an author can write in several genres and survive.

My answer to the latter question is a definite No. Not, that is, if you want to be published by mainstream firms. Maybe, just maybe, you can do it with a change of name (John Banville/Benjamin Black et cetera), but usually you can't do it at all.

One of my own problems as a writer was that I got bored doing the same book over again. But that is what publishers want. If you want to write different kinds of stuff, just accept from the beginning that Lulu is going to be your outlet.

The quote of Scarlett's that I like best is this: 'Like any other industry, publishing is pretty murky behind the scenes.'

If the Scarlett Johnson essay doesn't bring you to your senses about publishing, then nothing that I can say will make any difference. From now on, it's not my fault, OK?

Plagiarism x 2?

Yesterday's Times, and a lot of other papers, carried a comment or two about the suggestion that Ian McEwan's Atonement (shortlisted for the Booker and currently being filmed) had plagiarised the wartime memoirs of romantic novelist Lucilla Andrews, who died recently.

Well, I haven't read Atonement or the memoirs, let alone compared them side by side, so I'm not in a position to make a specific judgement. In general, however, I would say that any novelist who writes about the past (or even the present) needs to do quite a lot of research into the nature of those times.

At the end of The Night Watch, for example, Sarah Waters listed a large number of books that she had consulted. I did the same with my novel Beautiful Lady. If you acknowledge your sources from the start, and make sensible use of them rather than lifting passages wholesale, then there should not normally be a problem.

Meanwhile, Madame Arcati reports a much more serious and obvious case of plagiarism. Last May, John Blake published a ghosted autobiography of April Ashley. The ghost was Douglas Thompson. Now all the unsold copies have had to be pulped because Duncan Fallowell, author of the 1982 April Ashley's Odyssey, read the new book, did a few calculations, and concluded that two thirds of it were a straight reprint of his own book.

Bloody hell eh? Two thirds. Not just the odd sentence, or anecdote, but (reportedly) a paste and scissors job. As the whole book is available online, this probably wasn't too arduous. Not even any retyping involved.

In a later note, Madame relates that April herself knew nothing of all this until she read it in Madame's blog. Crumbs.

Mind you, this rather proves what I said the other day, namely that them as has their autobiographies ghosted often don't bother to read the book.

Short notes

If you live in the Tampa Bay area, or are visiting, the Tampa Book Buzz is a useful source of info.

Giles Ward's novel 100 Ways to Improve the World is about a disillusioned carpet salesman; it's described as a tale of murder and lust with tufted cut pile twist. It's published by Impress Books.

Charles J Shields, author of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, is now working on the authorised biography of Kurt Vonnegut. He would like to hear from any readers about their experiences with Vonnegut, either personally or with his novels. Contact: Cjs1994@earthlink.net

Alex Scarrow's new thriller, A Thousand Suns, has a fancypants book trailer on YouTube. Scared the pants off me. Publisher is Orion.

Jane Fletcher lives near Avebury and has some beautiful pics of the stones. She also writes dark fantasy and is a bit of a pagan. Dismissive critics get turned into frogs, so watch it.

Scott Pack provides some interesting insights into how publishers persuade retailers to stock their books -- and then complain if the retailers sell the advance copies which are more or less forced upon them. As with the case of TV copyright owners complaining about YouTube, this is a case of the suits not being smart enough. My view: if a publisher complains that you gave away or sold his precious ARC, that's what your first two fingers are for. (Link from Clive Keeble.)

Marti Lawrence, who wrote the freebie ebook about using Squidoo, has also written a novel. You can read it free online or even buy one.

Kourosh Ziabari is a 16-year-old Persian lad who blogs in English and is said to be the 'world's youngest journalist'. For someone who lives in a country which he describes (14 November) as 'the greatest prison for journalists' he is a bit on the outspoken side. And let's face it, you and I couldn't blog in Persian even now, let alone when we were sixteen, so I think this chap will go far.

Have you ever complained when the paper boy was a bit late in delivering your morning Times? If so, just consider the situation of novelist Carolyne Aarsen, who lives, I think we could say, a bit off the beaten track.

Tonto Press have announced the winner of their New Novelist project. Out of 400 entries, Pete Tanton came first.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dan Simmons has had great success in at least 4 genres: horror, fantasy, science fiction & mystery; plus a bit of mainstream thrown in. He's a very skilful writer & I would recommend his books to anyone.

Andrew O'Hara said...

It’s going to be bigger than ever,” he (Fenjves) said. “It’s like ‘Ulysses,’ except without the talent.”

That cinched it. I love this guy.

Walter Ellis said...

What "Illusions" would a carpet salesman have had?

archer said...

Judith Regan is hot. I am somewhat hesitant to approach her, however, as she is described in unflattering terms by many.

Marti said...

Thank you for the links!

Love Harper Lee - bio sounds good.

OJ and everyone associated with his garbage can rot - lol

Thank you for all the terrific information and insights you provide!

Anonymous said...

Well Walter surely even a carpet salesman can have illusions. Perhaps that's the whole reason he has them! Don't we all?