(Or rather, if you were I? which sounds incredibly awkward. Or, were you I? which is stilted to the point of being bad imitation Shakespeare. Who We Would Be Were You I and other collected poems, by Jonas J. Scribbler.)
So, to put it into Americanese, What Wouldja Do If You Was Me?
No wisecracks, please. No plastic-surgery jibes, no suggestions that I take the cloth, no observations about the eternal rest that can be achieved in a warm bath with the assistance of a sharp blade twisted under the veins in the wrist. Or at the minimum, keep them to yourself and anybody else in the room with you as you read this. Please don't share your merriment. ;-} (Don't you loathe smileys?)
Hey, I never intended to become a thriller writer. I haven’t read many thrillers, and most of them I’ve read were experiences I could easily have lived without. I adore Graham Greene and John Le Carre, of course, and some of Lee Child is exhilarating (if nothing else to see how many sentence fragments can be squeezed into a paragraph without being distracting. Plenty. Many frags. All over the place. Lots. All you need to accomplish Lee Child’s purpose. And then some.) But I’ve probably read less in the thriller genre than in any category apart from romance.
But the topics I needed to grapple with in Shock and Awe only amounted to a story in a thriller framework. So I wrote it that way. And now it turns out I’m a Thriller Writer.
No, really. I’m now a dues-paying member of the International Thriller Writers with my own page, right next to Susan Isaacs in the list (whom, as it turns out I have read, starting way way back with her funny novel Compromising Positions--hi, Susie!). And I’m now a member of the UK-based Crime Writers Association. (And they're a good bunch; they quite justifiably shortlisted Brian McGilloway’s Borderlands on a very short list for best debut novel, which shows damned good taste.) Crime Writer? Thriller Writer? I’m okay with it.
I have any number of things I want to write that fit into the thriller genre in some approximate fashion, though it's the kind of approximate that might result in a starfish on top of your Christmas tree. But Thriller Hotel isn’t an address I mind checking into. These days, I consider being allowed to sleep indoors with the humans to be a big step up in life. (Though the fellow who led me to my room said I could call him Procrustes. Name seems familiar somehow…Did he used to be on TV?)
It’s not that I can’t write thrillers (I hope). It’s not that I dislike writing thrillers. It’s just that I already have these other non-thriller books lying about the house, and they don’t fit with the persona/brand/expectations of a book by that "David Isaak" guy. They aren’t a logical follow-on to Shock and Awe. They’re the sort of thing someone might take as a debut novel…but I’m no longer a debutante. (Male form “debutant”, but no one has ever used that word outside of the dictionary.) I’m not a deb any more. I’m a—well, what the hell do you call me after my coming-out party plus forty-five seconds of mad passion in the back of a Ford Cortina? (That was rhetorical. Don’t answer that question or I’ll punch your lights out.)
So, here’s the question for y’all: If I have these books Macmillan won’t want because they don’t fit my brand (and because I’d have to be an even bigger nutcase than I already am to want them to publish them under my name), what do I do with them? Forget them? Sell them for firewood? Publish them in a small way under a pen name? (I’ve already had an editor at a small press ring my doorbell about one of them.) Try and get a new agent and create a parallel career (which Roger Morris has done with resounding success as RN Morris)? And, if I’m going to go back to agent-seeking, should I look for an agent in the UK or in the US? (And are you aware that most UK agents have adopted a policy of charging 15% for UK residents, but 20% for us wogs? [The wogs start at Calais, or so I’ve been told.])
More on this dilemma (Trilemma? Quadrilemma?) soon.
I’m sure you’re just a-quiver with anticipation. Us thriller writers know how to build the suspense, don't we?