Sunday, 14 October 2007

'Do You Write Under Your Own Name?'

This is a question people often ask me. Of course, it’s a polite way of saying they’ve never heard of me. A salutary reminder of my place in the food chain.

I’m not famous and I’m not exactly a best-seller, which means I’m firmly in the ‘mid-list’ – a near-meaningless phrase used in the trade to describe most of the writers I know. Occasionally, someone rises from the mid-list to achieve wider recognition. Ian Rankin is a spectacular example. Others include two of my long-time favourite crime writers, Peter Robinson and Andrew Taylor.

A lucky break helps. Winning an award, maybe, or finding a publisher who is really passionate about your work and is prepared to put real resource behind it. Andrew’s The American Boy was taken up by Richard and Judy. A television deal can transform your life – but only if the shows are actually made and keep reaching a wide and appreciative audience.

We can all think of telly detectives who disappeared almost as soon as they arrived on the scene – a recent example was Gil Mayo, as portrayed by Alastair MacGowan. The shows were quirky and rather better than their critical mauling might suggest. But they were very different from Marjorie Eccles’ excellent books and maybe the changes were not for the better.

At home, I keep a pile of scripts based on my books. Film scripts, tv scripts, a radio adaptation. All written by seasoned professionals - and they all have one thing in common.

None of them have ever been made.

1 comment:

Ed Gorman said...

I once did a useless department store book signing where the few people who came up were smart-asses. One said "I can't believe anybody from Iowa wrote a book." Another said "Who'd pay that much money for a book?" It was a hardcover. By the end of two hours I'd become a smart ass myself so when a smirky yuppie came over, picked up my novel and said, "I guess I've never heard of you" I said "Well, I guess I've never heard of YOU either." His wife frowned at me and dragged him away.