With 2013 just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to sit back and reflect on another year of great content and great books. Check back twice daily in the last days of 2012 for a selection of our favorite MulhollandBooks.com posts from the past year!
When you ask folks in the crime fiction community about Defending Jacob, William Landay’s new legal thriller, you better be holding a small brown paper bag – because they’re going to start hyperventilating when they talk about how good it is. Before it ever hit the shelves, it had already garnered a stunning list of blurbs, a blinding assortment of starred reviews and no shortage of industry buzz.
Since then it’s become as much of a commercial success as it was a critical one. At a time when the self-publishing evangelists are questioning whether conventional publishing is still capable of breaking out a new author, Defending Jacob has become a loud argument for the power of the Big Six. Landay’s book has set up shop on the New York Times Bestseller List, having spent the last eight weeks (and counting) there, going as high as No. 4.
Bill and I recently sat down – or at least I presume he was sitting while he wrote his half of this exchange – for a virtual chat…
You and I first met at Bouchercon last year. And I’ll admit there was nothing that impressive about you. You’re self-effacing. You’re a nice guy (especially for an ex-lawyer). You have a little bit of a beaten-down air about you. And you have a worse haircut than I do (which is saying something). I knew that an Advance Review Copy of your book, Defending Jacob, had been included in everyone’s goody bag and was already starting to get some buzz. But, frankly, I didn’t think much of you. Then I read your book and, in a word: Wow. So I guess my first question is: Will you ever forgive me for not being properly deferential to you, Mr. Landay?
It will take a lot of genuflecting, but I’m willing to consider it.
Actually, this is the great thing about writing. Only the books matter. The author’s personality will only take him so far. Yes, it probably helps to be a showman like Dickens or a self-promoter like Mailer or an egomaniac like … well, lots of writers. But you can be a recluse, too, like Dickinson, Salinger or Pynchon. In the end, you’ll be judged by the quality of your work and nothing else. That’s a comforting thought to an unimpressive, self-effacing, beaten-down sort of guy like me. (But please, a word in my barber’s defense: that’s not a bad haircut; it’s bad hair.)