I read a question on Twitter a few minutes ago: What genre do you write in? I have no idea what genre I write in. Broadly speaking I write thrillers, but answering that question made me wonder if that’s true.
Years ago I decided to make my fortune in the movies, so I wrote a screenplay that was a masterpiece of character and story. In a nutshell: a has-been movie star puts himself up as the prize in a competition to try and revive his career. High-jink ensue. The script was called The Big Time. I had access to an agent in LA, and sent off both the script and a prose version of the same story. A couple of weeks later I got a rejection email, which was actually full of useful advice, so, cool!
I applied the advice to the next script and sent that off. Word came back this was something that could be take to a studio. Brilliant! I had it made! Bruce Willis would star in the movie and I could retire to a tropical island and develop an interest in some obscure form of something obscure. Before that could happen, the agent fell out with the person who had put me in touch and my movie became something obscure.
A couple of years later Win a Date with Tad Hamilton came out, I nearly threw up. This does not necessarily mean my scrip was stolen. I got the idea from Tony Curtis, who had been a prize in a competition, and had to go and live with a family for, I think, two weeks.
To salvage something from the situation, I started to turn my action script into a novel. I would sell the movie rights, Bruce Willis would star, and I would retire to a tropical island…
I set to work, before I had finished the first draft I was bored. Rather than throw it out, I decided to play with the form and I ended up with something I liked. The book is The Company of Thieves, and aside from the main story, there’s a parallel story, and many asides exploring the history of minor characters because I wondered how they ended up where they are in the world of the book.
Before I decided to self-publish, I went the traditional route and collected my rejection slips.
In the five years or so since I did publish I’ve sold about ten copies. The strongest response I’ve had was second-hand. Someone started to read it and their initial reaction was, ‘What the fuck is this?’ They threw the book aside, but then couldn’t get it out of their head and had to give it another go; on the second reading they couldn’t put it down.
As I say, that news came to me through someone else.
I just wish they guy who read it had put that on Amazon.