Back when I was a little teeny writer, I read a lot of Nancy Drew books. I loved them – they were stories about a smart and resourceful heroine who faced a little bit of danger that wasn’t too graphic, and she always caught the crooks in the end.
But they aren’t terribly well-written. Here’s an example from The Bungalow Mystery. Nancy and her friend Helen are picked up by a girl named Laura, who is rowing them to safety in a storm when things take a dangerous turn:
Another zigzag streak of lightning disclosed the shore line more distinctly. A short distance out from the land and directly in front of their boat stood the ugly protruding nose of a jagged boulder!
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”