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Little Old Lady Got Mutilated Late Last Night

Literary Novelist Turns to Vampires and Finds Pot of Gold

Justin Cronin at an annual book industry convention in New York last week.
Chad Batka for The New York Times — DOESN’T THIS LOOK LIKE A LOT OF FUN??

Published: June 1, 2010

Justin Cronin is the author of an epic, multimillion-dollar, 766-page novel that stars bloodthirsty creatures that run in packs and savagely kill people at night. And he’s planning to turn it into a trilogy.

Dearest darling readers of this blog: Take a moment to read the NYT article about Justin Cronin if you haven’t already. And then tell me, WTF, why isn’t that US? Why aren’t we buying our daughter a pony. Why didn’t we initiate a game “Let’s Plan a Novel Together?” (I actually play this with my daughter all the time but we’ve never gotten past the first few sentences.) Why didn’t we sell film rights to Scott Free Productions with John Logan writing? Why are we not Justin Cronin. And try as I might to hate him and his good fortune, he seems great. Kids, for the umpteenth time: a vampire novel! Please!

What I really want to know, though, is how do these articles make you feel? Hopeful? Inspired? August?

57 Responses

  1. I have already bought my daughter the pony. I have not, however, bought her college education. She’s only three. Never too soon, I know, but I am believing that The Secret will hit between now and her graduation and manifest itself to bring me wealth and happiness (especially with the width of my thighs). Why is it him? Because someone bigger than me said so. Kinda like my mother said when I wanted to play in the mud puddles and she said no…because…she…said…so. It makes me feel bi-polar, truthfully. Now, while I swing between loving acceptance and full out hatred, I think I’ll retreat and go to bed.

  2. this song includes the best line, ever.

    his hair was perfect.

    i don’t know what it is about this line but it’s the fucking best.

    i have no thoughts on what you’re posting about, only the song choice.

    you’re ace, Betsy.

  3. I don’t believe in vampires and I’m not interested in vampires. I think it’s a major example of selling out and it makes me sick.

  4. I think good on him. Whatever you can do to get ahead in the game, you should do, I say. Vampires may be a bit cliched at the moment, but there have been some fabulous examples of literature starring vamps and perhaps what he’s written is in that group.

    • That is exactly what I think.

      I only hope my current manuscript, also literary horror, turns out as well. It’s about a literary agent who uses her blog to rupture the aneurysm of a charming young novelist with a bright future, a full head of hair, and a kid whose best idea to date is ‘a lava-proof suit made of lava.’

      What the fuck am I supposed to do with -that-? At least now I know that the problem isn’t just my lack of talent but my shitty kid.

  5. But, but, but! The internet told me NOT to write a vampire novel because it had already been done! So, reading this article makes me feel like I can’t trust anyone. Including the NYT. Not a new feeling, really.

    But he does seem nice, and I like to support all parents who buy ponies. (Speaking as a child who is still waiting… 25 years down the line…)

  6. Screw Ethan Frome. More vampires please. In fact, I want Ethan to turn into a vampire when the sparkle dust gets released from the broken pickle dish. Yeah. Ethan Frome as a vampire. Give me some of that.

  7. Everyone must read it before passing judgment. It’s sensationally good. These “vampires,” if you can call them that, aren’t the sensitive, misunderstood, walk-among-us types that populate the Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris books. They’re monsters, and really scary. I promise you have never read fantasy or horror novel this well written.

  8. Curiosity got the best of me, so I went to the website Ballantine has for this book and read the excerpt. I wanted to hate it. Really I did.
    But it’s just not hateable.
    I’ll be buying it next week, like a schmuck.


  9. I was in the audience of his interview at BEA with Sarah Weinman, Lee Childs and Karin Slaughter (ok I missed the first 15 mins) and I don’t recall hearing vampires brought up at all. When I read about it in NYT yesterday it was a bit of a shock. But that explains the smirk on Lee Childs’ face.

  10. There is nothing, nothing, that supports the Chaos Theory like the publishing business. Especially this aspect:

    The Lyapunov exponent characterises the extent of the sensitivity to initial conditions. Quantitatively, two trajectories in phase space with initial separation diverge

    where λ is the Lyapunov exponent. The rate of separation can be different for different orientations of the initial separation vector. Thus, there is a whole spectrum of Lyapunov exponents — the number of them is equal to the number of dimensions of the phase space. It is common to just refer to the largest one, i.e. to the Maximal Lyapunov exponent (MLE), because it determines the overall predictability of the system. A positive MLE is usually taken as an indication that the system is chaotic.

    Face it people, I could write the greatest vampire novel ever and send it out to 100 agents and I’d get 100 rejections. I am not Cronin; I am not King; I am not Meyer. I could be Bran stoker, because The original 541-page manuscript of Dracula, believed to have been lost, was found in a barn in northwestern Pennsylvania during the early 1980s.[10] It included the typed manuscript with many corrections, and handwritten on the title page was “THE UN-DEAD.” The author’s name was shown at the bottom as Bram Stoker. Author Robert Latham notes, “the most famous horror novel ever published, its title changed at the last minute.”[8]

    (excerpts from wiki, wiki, woooooo)

    And I do have a great one- first volume is Walt Whitman Called to Life and then tne other great writers….all works in the public domain….now don’t yu go a’stealing mine idea…..

  11. I’m not hatin,’ as the kids say. Maybe I’ll just go and out write another stripper-turned-addict-turned-to-recovery memoir and collect my $350,000 advance. Oh wait, That IS what I’m writing… but I’m not Bill Clegg. Bill Clegg wasn’t a stripper, but you get my point. In case you didn’t, my point is this: EVERYTHING has been done, but it still takes something being in some way fresh and well done, plus a lot of work, to be successful. I couldn’t write a novel about vampires if my life depended on it. This Cronin guy is obviously into them, he did his thing and look at the face on that dude– he’s loving life. Good for him. That’s how I’m going to look when my book comes out, and that’s the point, for me, of writing.

  12. Wait a second, vampires are IN? Since when!? I had no idea.

    Bigfoot, Elvis and I, protected in our undisclosed location, haven’t heard anything of the sort.

    And I hope the Doobie Brothers haven’t broken up.

  13. Part envy; part disgust. 766 pages of virals? A trilogy? wtf I guess I’d be slightly wide-eyed and giddy too.

  14. How do I feel you ask? The same as before I read the NYT article. I’m with those that say ‘good for him’. Really. I’ll keep plugging away and my time will come, and it may or may not include gobs of money. (I did gasp when I learned Cronin is my age, but that was momentary. I’m breathing normally now.)

  15. I have successfully avoided ALL vampires since the few in Jasper Fforde, but I may check this one out.

    Meanwhile, “Little old lady got mutilated late last night,” is one of my favorite sentences in the whole world. I say it out loud whenever I need to cheer myself up.

    The song is great, too.

  16. I’m jealous, but he seems like a cool guy. Unfortunately I’ve never been into vampires…so I’ll keeping plugging along on my WIP….and struggling to pay my son’s college bills….

  17. After reading this post and the NYT article last night, I saw a huge poster of the new Jake Gyllenhaal flick, (with a gorgeous babe at his side) and it made me think: publishing is like the movie biz: how to make millions off the masses (well-written or not). He sure has done a lot to “un-damage” his reputation after the fine work he did in Broke Back.

  18. 1. It’s a book about Death, my favorite subject. Only it’s dressed up as a vampire novel. Usually, I want my Death books to be either a medical narrative or a memoir about a horrible experience on a life raft. I don’t know if I’ll slog through 700+ pages of dialog and scenery and the inevitable love triangle (that is, the fiction bits) just to get to the juicy death stuff. But Mr. Cronin seems like a very nice guy. That doesn’t mean that I can’t hate him, does it?

    2. I’m going to share with you The Secret to success in the book biz (Attention: writers and publishers): Put out books that people who don’t read books want to read. And right now, the people who don’t read books want to read about vampires (and, so I hear, angels). And dogs. They like books about dogs, too. All we have to figure out is, what will the people who don’t read books want to read about NEXT?

  19. It’s not just about how well the book is written. It also has to be an “in” plot- i.e, a well-written vampire book. A well-written non-vampire book would be overlooked.

  20. Hmm. This isn’t the kind of wild card success that gets my panties in a twist, probably because it’s so vastly different from what I do that it doesn’t even feel related. What I get all lathered about are the little indie books that garner a butt-wad of attention (I mean, y’know, relatively) and then turn out to be–in my opinion–completely fucking unreadable. I would loooove to name names here but I’m too much of a lady. Ahem.

  21. Please, Shanna?

    • Uh uh. Can’t do it. At least not in a public forum.

      Lee Child, however, is fair game because his website bio says things like: “Lee has three homes—an apartment in Manhattan, a country house in the south of France, and whatever airplane cabin he happens to be in while traveling between the two.” And: “He is tall and slim, despite an appalling diet and a refusal to exercise.” It’s like he WANTS me to call him an asshole.

      • Ahem, allow me. ASSHOLE!!!

      • I don’t know Mr. Childs personally but having seen him at ITW and MWA conferences, he seems to be incredibly generous towards debuting thriller and mystery authors. And very clever, smart, funny in a dry way. He doesn’t seem to suffer fools gladly.

      • Fair enough Alma. Perhaps he’s a lovely man and I know I’ve shouted others down for personal attacks here before so in that case: the person responsible for that bio was having a moment of being laughably out of touch with the world. In other words, a bit of an asshole.

  22. I’m happy for Cronin. Friends who’ve read advanced copies say the novel is amazingly good. But for myself? F*ck, it makes me tired.

  23. Hard to think of him as a sell-out when it sounds like the inspiration came from a genuine place. What I think agents/ readers hate are people who purposefully latch on to something because it’s perceived as the hot thing and produce a cheap, formulaic knock off.

    He sounds like he deserves the success more than a lot of writers I can think of. I also think what he said about the difference between literary v commercial was spot on. Plus he sounds like a fun dad.

    • Believe me, the inspiration to produce a cheap, formulaic knock-off comes from a genuine place.

      • the place that genuinely wants some $$$? Not saying I don’t have one of those, I know because I get a pain in that exact spot every time I sit down to write.

      • Yeah, that’s the spot.

        Ideally, I guess, the two places overlap, but assuming that they don’t, what are your options?

        1) You write from unquiet chambers of your heart which yearn for beauty and settle for truth.
        2) You write from the knowledge that your wife’s got an ass like Coco and twenty-five years experience faking orgasms; if she left you, she could pull a dozen lawyers in the greater Portland area inside of a year and settle into a life of polite superiority and adequate health care. Well, that’s bullshit, motivated by my desire to make people Google ‘ass like Coco’–my wife wouldn’t leave me if I admitted that I, too, banged Nikki Haley–but the desperation is real. I’ve got nothing but writing. If I continue to fuck up for another five years, I could do some real damage to my family. I would happily write the most derivative cynical horseshit to pay the bills. Except, of course, not ‘happily.’ But I look into the future, and if I don’t start selling soon, I don’t like what I see.

        Seems to me that one of those places is genuine and one is just jerking off. Fuck Justin Cronin, he’s already -got- a job.

      • That sounds rather serious August. Is there nothing else at all people might pay you to do? Tap dancing? Lion taming? Line editing? Didn’t Kyler throw out Rent Boy as a suggestion at one point?

        Seems like living 100% of one’s writing is only a reality for a very, very few (I’ve repeatedly been shocked by how broke some of the relatively well-known authors I’ve worked with are) but beyond that I think it must take some of the joy out of it by making it such a pressure cooker, no? Not that we’re all doing this for fun but hopefully the love stays in the picture a little bit.

        PS: your wife sounds like a lovely person. And hot.

  24. so far, I’ve seen 3 books with the title “The Girl with the…..” One is The Girl with the Crystal Eyes.
    How many things can a girl have?
    The Girl with the Black Mole with a Hair Sticking Out
    The Girl with Two Heads
    The Girl with Vampire Blood
    The Girl with the Sharp Whistle
    The Girl with the Yellow Dog
    The Girl with roach legs.
    The Girl with the Gothic Eyes.
    The Girl with the Dog Collar

    The girl………..any ideas?

  25. The Girl Who Thinks our Culture is Fu$$ked

  26. Someone please tell me, who does BAD vampire? What authors have f–d up their vampire subject matter so badly as to render a book unsellable? Vampires are not just indestructible creatures in their own lives, but are the buoys that can hold up any theme.

    At least actors admit they make blockbusters for the cash…how many writers are honest about their financial motives? (Which I believe is fine to have).

  27. It’s all about the hype. The publisher’s been pushing this book for months and months. As we can all attest to, there are plenty of wonderful books out there that could have the same success given support. That’s the dispiriting part.

    Congratulations to Jonathan Karp. I think he’s got the right idea.

  28. August, if your prose is anything like your comments style, your future is secure.

    You got me at “ass like Coco.” Had to Google. Holy crap! as it were.

  29. I’m afraid August writes way to well to count on a secure future, Tena. Financially, that is. There’s not a lot of dough in turning out books that are appreciated by people with brains.

  30. There is nothing inherently wrong with genre candy. And the same goes for more literary fiction. Sutree is not the Road, and no everyone is Cormac McCarthy.
    It is not bullsh$t to appreciate and want literature, not just a Sunday swing read.

  31. I have a vampire novella, written some time ago, never tried to get it published. Perhaps I should dust it off, do a bit of rewriting and let you read it? It has a unique premise, in that the vampire (being gifted in certain powers) becomes quite a masterful thief – along with a few other nocturnal unsavory habits of survival.

  32. How do articles like this make me feel? Christ, even the fabulous friggin’ comments on this blog make me feel unworthy. Think I’ll just go back to writing annual reports.

  33. I have an ARC for The Passage to review, and from the first page I knew I was going to love the book. Mr. Cronin writes very well which obviously stems from his literary experience. Although Mr. Cronin has other publications, this gives me hope that I too can break into publishing with something a little different: albeit, still with monsters.

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