Link round-up

First, over at the Reading Room, I answer twenty questions.

Then over on Murderati, I blog about Ignoring the H8Rs, and what it’s like to be criticized in public.

And from The Daily Beast, a funny piece about NYT-bestseller envy.

And … the possibility of a Rizzoli & Isles fan convention next summer!

September 11 and the impact on publishing

A recent New York Times article explored how September 11 affected newcomers to the fashion industry. Some designers, about to debut their work, found that opportunity lost forever. Some had to give up their dreams.

It made me wonder if there was a similar effect on writers. When the sell-in for your next book is determined by how many copies your last book sold, when a publisher invests in a book launch that never happens because of a national tragedy, does that author get a second chance?

First, my memories of 9/11. My book The Surgeon was released August 21, 2001, and I was still on book tour, scheduled to depart Seattle the morning of 9/11. I was up early to catch my flight and just happened to have the TV on while I packed, so even before I left for the airport, I knew what was unfolding. By the time I arrived at the airport, all flights were grounded, and I ended up stranded in Seattle for a whole week. It was a sad, turbulent time to be so far from home. I remember dropping in at bookstores during that week and finding many of them deserted. No one seemed to be shopping. No one wanted to read. We were all glued to TV sets, watching history unfold.

I also remember that that week, there was no bestseller list published in the Wall Street Journal. I seem to remember that the NYT didn’t publish a bestseller list that week, either, although I may be wrong about that. The publishing world came to a halt. So did book tours, book shipments, and author TV and radio interviews. If your book was scheduled to debut that week, you were out of luck. Unless your name was Jack Welch, who still managed to dredge up some publicity, but only because of the irony of the big-shot CEO with the unfortunate pub date.

But I wonder about authors who aren’t Jack Welch. The hopefuls who were looking forward to their first release. Whose publicists had lined up hard-won TV appearances. Or the authors whose books didn’t arrive in stores that week, or the week after, and who forever lost their co-op placement on the front tables. What happened to them? Did their careers ever get a second chance? Did their poor sales that month mean their next books were doomed?

I’d like to hear from those authors whose books went on sale September, 2001. How did you cope? Do you think there was lasting damage to your career?

Link round-up

My blog post over at Murderati.com about the books business in Australia and New Zealand.

And in the New Zealand Herald, an interview (by the charming Craig Sisterson) about my books, Rizzoli & Isles, and the personality trait I have in common with Jane Rizzoli.

And at long last, “Rizzoli & Isles” comes to UK TV starting September 13 on the Alibi Channel!

Fond of fauna down under

I’m dizzy with jet lag, but just wanted to talk about my fabulous trip to NZ and Australia. Yes, it may have been for business, but I got in some sightseeing as well. And the most amazing stuff we saw while there was the flora and fauna.

Prior to my trip, I’d already been fascinated by New Zealand’s legendary longfin eels. Rumored to live as long as a century, and to be man-eaters as well, these freshwater eels were featured in one of my favorite shows, “River Monsters,” and I was longing to see one. I think I drove my NZ publicist Yvonne nutty talking about them. Every day it was eels this, eels that, until finally in Christchurch she found out about a wildlife park where I could actually feed the eels!

So off we went.


And here I am, feeding them raw meat with a little spoon. As you can see, they slither right out of the water and wait with mouths open like baby birds. Their teeth slant backwards, so if they accidentally bite your fingers, they’ll scrape the flesh right off. But I couldn’t resist the temptation of stroking their skin — so soft and silky!

What amazed me is that anyone can go right up to the eels, without any supervision. I later asked one of the employees in the gift shop if anyone ever got bitten. “Oh, it happens,” he said, shrugging. “About once or twice a day.” In the U.S., fearing lawsuits, they’d cage those eels behind mesh. But in NZ, they expect people to display a little common sense.

At that same park, I was introduced to the startling Kunekune pig, which looks like he was once a normal pig who ran face-first into a concrete wall.

He was really friendly and loved getting petted, but oh that weird face! I wonder if this was director Peter Jackson’s model for orcs?

After NZ, it was on to Australia and more fauna, some of expected:

And some of it startling. Look closely at this photo of a tree with weird dark fruit. Wait — is that fruit?

Nope. Those are huge bats, otherwise known as flying foxes, which have infested the trees of Sydney’s botanic garden. There’s about a thousand of them and they’re destroying the trees. But boy are they mesmerizing.

While in Melbourne, we made it out to Phillips Island where there’s a penguin colony that swims to shore after sunset. Thousands of them come trooping up from the beach and up into the scrub in what’s known as the “penguin parade,” and tourists travel from all over the world to watch it. There are so many penguins that some of them end up in the parking lot, where you’ll find this sign:

Finally, it’s not just the fauna that fascinated me. The flora’s pretty darn interesting itself, especially this creepy thing called the “Birdcatcher tree”

The sticky fruit you see in the photo traps birds, which then starve to death. Their corpses fall to the ground and the decaying bodies fertilize the tree. Makes me shudder to think about it. Which is exactly why I will always remember it.