Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Out with the Old and In with the New

I'm so pleased to have Jeff Marks as my guest this week. He's the author of a number of award-winning books as well as Intent to Sell, a book every writer should own.
There comes a time about 90% of the way through a book where my mind starts to wander. Having successfully, or nearly successfully, completing another book, I start to think about what I want to do next. I find myself there with the Erle Stanley Gardner biography at the moment. I’m tucking in details here and there, but the vast majority of the writing about this extremely productive author is complete.
I’m down to reading the last few books. Of his 140+ published books, I’ve read all but a handful. I even have a contest going to pick the date when I close the last of the Perry Mason novels (details can be found at my website, http://www.jeffreymarks.com) and move on completely to writing. Added to that, I’m editing earlier chapters while writing about the last days of his life.
Given the fact that the last author (Anthony Boucher: http://books.google.com/books/about/Anthony_Boucher.html?id=fsVlAAAAMAAJ) I wrote about had less than 10 percent of that output, it’s been a long haul for me. None of the Gardner books are available in eBook format, so I’ve been reading the old-fashioned way as well.
I’ve done most of the interviews with the family and friends, editors and fellow authors. I’ve spent the hours watching the Mason movies and the Mason TV show.
The end of the road is in sight and after two intense years on a journey, I’m picking my head up to look around. I actually read a book that wasn’t by Gardner last week; it kind of felt like I was being unfaithful.  I talked to some friends who threw out ideas on new subjects for biography. I’ve been following my Biographers’ group on Facebook to see what others are doing.
It’s not like I’ll stop now. I’ll still finish the book, and I got a push in that direction when my research assistant uncovered a trove of previously undiscovered photos and letters. It’s part of a large amount of material that has never been used to define one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.  It adds to Gardner’s early years, and hopefully makes it a better book with a clearer understanding of the man who practically invented the legal thriller.
So what is next? Of course, another biography, but I’m only in the first stages of deciding on a new subject. Each book takes several years to write, and I tend to be particular about who I spend that much time with. I’m always open to suggestions and recommendations though, as I look forward. Until then, I’ll try to put my head back down to the grindstone and write the final pages of this book.
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Jeffrey Marks is a long-time mystery fan and freelancer.  After numerous mystery author profiles, he chose to chronicle the short but full life of mystery writer Craig Rice.
That biography (Who Was That Lady?) encouraged him to write mystery fiction. His works include Atomic Renaissance: Women Mystery Writers of the 1940s/1950s, and Criminal Appetites, an anthology of cooking related mysteries. His latest work is a biography of mystery author and critic Anthony Boucher entitled Anthony Boucher. It has been nominated for an Agatha and fittingly, won an Anthony.
He is the long-time moderator of MurderMustAdvertise, an on-line discussion group dedicated to book marketing and public relations. He is the author of Intent to Sell: Marketing the Genre Novel, the only how-to book for promoting genre fiction.
His work has won a number of awards including the Barnes and Noble Prize and he was nominated for a Maxwell award (DWAA), an Edgar (MWA), three Agathas (Malice Domestic), two Macavity awards, and three Anthony awards (Bouchercon). Today, he writes from his home in Cincinnati, which he shares with his partner and two dogs.

10 comments:

Polly said...

Wow, what passion. I'm curious. You mention the biography of Craig Rice encouraged you to write mystery fiction, but you don't mention the book. Are you still writing it?

Kudos for your dedication to the mystery genre.

Thanks, Ellis, for his guest post.

una tiers said...

An amazing amount of work, I'm impressed. Ellis introduces me to so many neat people.
Una Tiers

Pamela DuMond, D.C. said...

Thanks Ellis. Keep up the good work Jeffrey. Both reading and writing and helping all us mystery authors.

Best,

Pam DuMond

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this!!! I'll look forward to this book. Good luck with everything the rest of the week, Jeffrey!!!!

BrendaW.

Jeffrey Marks said...

Polly, I wrote The Ambush of My Name after the Craig Rice biography. It was published 3 months after the Rice biography. I'm debating whether to write a PI novel, after I finish the Gardner bio.

Jeffrey Marks said...

Thanks Pam. I expect to be better than ever in a few days!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I appreciate knowing more about you, Jeffrey. Your books are very interesting. Hope you feel better soon.

jenny milchman said...

That does sound like an intense journey. I bet the audience for this book will be a wide one. I wish you the best of luck with it.

Donnell said...

Jeffrey, amazing task you've set upon. Earl Stanley Gardner also had a pseudonym did he not. Have you read any of those. Are you ready to take a break, or are you ready to jump right into the fray?

Congratulations and best wishes on your success!

Ellis Vidler said...

Jeff, you do throw your heart into it, don't you? It shows. You even made me think Ulysses Grant was okay. :-)
I hope this week is a good one and next week even better.