Bestselling writer Jason Pinter is darned prolific. Since his Barry Award-nominated novel The Mark was released in early 2007, he’s published two more novels in his Henry Parker series: The Guilty and The Stolen. The Fury will be released this coming March. And given that, not so long ago, Pinter left his glamorous job as an editor at a NY publishing house to write full time, there are sure to be more thrillers about the idealistic young reporter to follow.
This past summer, Jason was brave enough to appear on the Thrillerfest panel that I moderated (my first!). Everyone on the panel had published their first novel in 2007, so we had lots of sage (ha!) advice to offer. There’s a dvd of our memorable appearance somewhere on this website if you want to hear what Jason had to say. But you’ll find out much more about him at his personal website. Snag a copy of The Stolen, here. (Really, though, you should start at the beginning!)
Jason lives in New York and will be appearing at the Barnes & Noble on East 86th St on October 30th. (More events listed on his site.)
So I’m sitting in a hotel room in Baltimore for Bouchercon 2008 as I type this, growing hungrier by the minute because being Jewish I’m observing Yom Kippur. Also known as the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur is a 24 hour period–from sunset today until sunset tomorrow–whereby we fast to atone and repent for our sins.
Now, aside from my usual sins (sloth, gluttony, never returning phone calls, not responding to emails in a timely manner, hoping to see Karl Rove get swept up by a windstorm and sail into a stucco building), I have writerly sins as well. Some of these sins are private, and have to do with my work schedule. I never write as much as I want to, I never read as much as I intend to, and spend way too much money on books I don’t have time to read. Nevertheless, I do have public writer sins. Most of them, unsurprisingly, have to do with my simple lack of a public life. I’m a relatively shy guy. I outgrew the bar and club scene a long time ago, at least as far as it pertained to spending $13 on a Jack and Coke in a dimly lit hallway where you’re being shoved back and forth by sweaty dudes in plaid shirts and trying not to bump into the girl somehow carrying six martini glasses.
My public life tends to consist of book signings when a new book comes out, going to local events when an author friend is in town, and wandering the aisles of my local bookseller day after day to the point where one of the clerks remarks that I changed outfits (because it was my second time in the store that day). I have some fans, but I still don’t really believe them when they write to tell me they enjoy my books. I assume they’re being put on by my wife or my mother in an attempt to make me happy. Granted I can’t yet explain how my mother might have been able to fake over a hundred different email addresses or change her handwriting, but the first thing I told myself when I decided to try to write a novel was to never think you’re any good. The moment you start to buy into any hype, you’ll lose your motivation. This might count for two sins: modesty and pride (the eighth and ninth dwarfs, in case you’re counting).
Yet all these sins are forgiven at conferences. I come early, stay late, and tend to enjoy every minute of it. Not because I sell lots of books (if I sell enough to pay for a Happy Meal on the drive back I’ll be happy), but because there are few places I’d rather be than hanging out with other people who love books enough to the point where they’ll spend hundreds of dollars to hang out with other book lunatics, sit in panels hour after hour to hear about plot, pacing, work schedules, and innumerable inside jokes about things like Barry Eisler’s hair and the size of Dave White’s…feet. (just kidding)
As a writer who doesn’t get out much, I’ll make an exception at conferences. I’ll stay at the bar until my eyes get weary, I’ll drink with people I’ve never met before, and I might even gather up the courage to introduce myself to someone whose work overjoys me to the point where I give up rational thought that they’re a human being and convince myself that they’re an alien life form that will spontaneously either burst into flames or laughter when I attempt an introduction.
But you know what? Most of them are cool about it. Cause even the veteran writers, the ones who’ve been to five or ten or twenty conferences were at one point in my shoes. And there are probably a slew of aspiring writers at this conference who, next year, might be as well. And ten years from now, they’ll be the ones downing their fifth pint of beer as a newbie gathers up the liquid courage to speak to them.
So Bouchercon is another way to atone for my sins, public and private. Though events like these make atoning in public a whole lot more fun.
[Remember–Everyone who comments is entered to win $100 Godiva Chocolatier and Harry & David giftbaskets, plus books from several Octoberguest! authors! Drawing held November 2nd.]
Tomorrow’s Octoberguest!: Sharon Linnea