Tuesday, May 06, 2008

An Author Who Did the Work and Got the Reward

An article in the Daily Record (United Kingdom) caught my eye. It’s about a Scottish author, Jack Ross, who has published his first crime novel. The fact that he’s a debut author isn’t what intrigued me, although that was interesting enough –

He took the usual route of a new author – he sent his manuscript/query out to agents … and got rejection after rejection and did rewrite after rewrite. He followed this path for years.

But then …
He eventually decided to aim for the top and sent his manuscript to well-known London agent Caradoc King, of the AP Watt firm. King represents best-selling writers Philip Pullman, Nicholas Evans, of Horse Whisperer fame, and Man and Boy author Tony Parsons.

And then…
"Within 48 hours, I had a call from his office and, once I got in touch with him, things went very fast."
The novel was sold to publishers Hutchinson in a two-book deal (the sequel River Of Grass is currently close to completion), while foreign rights have been sold to Germany and Romania, with the BBC buying up the audio book rights. It is released on paperback by Arrow books (John Grisham's label) later this year and they are currently working on deals to sell the book in America and further a field. A Hollywood agent is also planning to hold discussions with major studios to agree film or TV rights when the second novel is finished.

Now, clearly, that’s a great story. But what interested me in this article is the research Ross did on the novel. He’s from Scotland – keep that in mind.

He spent seven years researching and writing the novel. During that time, he wasn’t just sitting at his computer at home. He traveled to Miami “to scout locations and research his subject.”
During his trip to the sunshine state, Jack was warned off "no whites" slums, met prison warders, relatives of death row inmates and also went on ride-alongs with undercover cops to get a real feel for the seedier side of the city.

Since his book had its beginnings in a story of real people, he interviewed them.
"I spoke to a lot of detectives to get an idea of how they work and how they talk, and get a feel for things."

As well as gaining an insight into the city's seedier underbelly, Jack also spoke to people directly involved with death row inmates, a situation his fictional character William Craig finds himself. … And he spoke to relatives of inmates on death row and state penitentiary workers.

He, of course, also did considerable research on the Internet.

Then … he wrote the first draft in a month.

It pays to do the groundwork.


  1. Excellent post--just goes to show that what my mom always said was true: "Sometimes you MAKE your own luck."

  2. This seems to be a good example of how the word "make" works. He truly made his luck!


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