If you haven’t heard of the novel Wool by Hugh Howey, then it’s likely you will at some point in the near future. It has been hailed as science fiction’s answer to 50 Shades, although only in the way that a self-publishing author has broken out, rather than any similarity in content. Woolbegan as a short story of just 60 pages, first published in July 2011. By the end of that year, Howey had added a further four parts to bring the story up to the generally-accepted idea of novel length. Momentum kept building throughout last year, to the point where today Howey enjoys all the trappings of a successful, A-list fiction author (Ridley Scott has the film rights, Random House are handling the print editions in most territories, and the book’s Amazon page now boasts over 3,300 reviews).
I have only been to one writer’s conference. It was a small one in Auckland, New Zealand run by the Romance Writer’s Guild. So yes, there were a lot of Mills and Boons authors there and yes, I possibly could have found one that was a slightly better fit for me, but all my books have a heavy romantic element and it was in town, so I figured I should give it a shot.
Barry Eisler has two different claims to fame. To readers, he is the best-selling author of two exciting thriller series: the guy who doesn’t just write about heroes who are ex CIA covert ops specialists, Judo experts, international players, and start-up lawyer/operators but actually IS all those things himself. Or was at some point before coming in out of the cold to do boring things like collect awards for his work.
To indie authors, he’s a hero of another kind: one of the handful of writers like Konrath and Doctorow and Hocking and Locke who have become icons, living totems that not only testify to seismic changes in publishing, but have had a major hand in making those changes happen.
It would be hard to identify a single action that did more to light up new potential and realities for independent writers and publishers than Eisler’s decision last March to snub a half-million dollar advance from St. Martins in order to go his own way. The answer to the sneering, “Yeah, but if they offered you a big advance, you’d take it, wouldn’t you?” officially changed from “Damn straight” to “Maybe”, and that small shift put a very major crack in the monolith. Continue reading “Tips from the Masters: Barry Eisler”
John Gilstrap has an unusual characteristic for a multi NYT best-selling author: he’s known online as very approachable and forthcoming individual, open and willing to connect. Maybe that has something to do with his kind of thriller, the kind that are less about whizbang, agency name-dropping, and international scare-shows, and more about human beings coping with hairy situations.
He’s always shown up heavily in the audio book market, with major sales to listeners and bling like The Copper Bracelet being #1 at Audible.com, with Audiobook Of They Year and Audie Award honors for The Chopin Manuscript.
But my personal favorites of his books is an early one, Nathan’s Run, a excellent example of what I mean by his human scale. There’s no huge world-shaking threat, no blazing action sequences; just a 12 year-old boy on the run from death with nobody to protect or care for him. In fact, a scan of his work shows that many show similar themes, as much so as his more typical investigators and assassin thrillers: church camp teens held hostage, a son lost in a frozen wilderness, a couple protect a hunted waif, criminal parents fleeing capture with their teen-aged son. It’s suspense in the real world, the world you know and depend on–fear and action in your own size and idiom. Continue reading “Tips from the Masters: John Gilstrap”