Bestseller Banter Panel


First, a wee note: I have embarked on my first NaNoWriMo, and because I had to finish a couple of writing tasks before the end of October, I haven’t been able to blog daily and complete my report of the fabulous Surrey International Writers’ Conference.

I have, so far, managed to make my NaNo quota though (joy!).

And I’m trying to finish up some outstanding critiquing.

So I will post today and tomorrow, but then I will be going on a brief trip to visit a friend for a few days.  I will resume the bloggage after that.  Once I’ve caught up with the SiWC reporting, however, I’m returning to my usual one or two posts on the weekend gig.

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Picture of the author Diana Gabaldon during a ...

Picture of the author Diana Gabaldon during a book signing held in Fergus, Ontario (during the Scottish Festival) on August 11, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The bestseller banter panel was moderated by Chris (CC) Humphreys and was composed of:  Michael Slade, Diana Gabaldon, Jane Porter, and Susanna Kearsley

Q: What was your first book on the bestseller list?

SK: The Winter Sea made the New York Times bestseller list as an ebook.

JP: Lifetime made a movie of my book Flirting with Forty.

DG: I was away on a book tour for three weeks for Voyager. My husband told me when he picked me up at the airport.  I was too tired to react.  More recently Starz is making an Outlander series.  This is the fourth time Outlander has been optioned.  When the deal was struck, I was sworn to secrecy, but I was attending BEA at the time and word got out.  I ended up telling everyone.

MS: My first novel became a bestseller because of my rep got me up at 3 am to speak

Susanna Kearsley Photo by Ashleigh Bonang

Susanna Kearsley
Photo by Ashleigh Bonang

with the book distributors.  That week, Stephen King’s The Shining hit the shelves as well.  The distributors looked at both books and decided to give top billing to the man who came out to talk to them.  That’s how my book beat out Stephen King’s to become number one in Vancouver.

Q: What pressures did you experience after your books had such great success?

SK: I didn’t feel any pressure from others, but I had something I’d never had to deal with before: deadlines.  It didn’t affect my writing.  I placed pressure on myself, however, to prove that I could get on the bestseller list again. Firebird was on the NYT mass market paperback list.

JP: Producers wanted to make movies of more of my books, but they wanted Flirting with Forty again, and I was writing something else.  I had to get out of a bad deal.  Marketing took over.  They kept asking for changes.

DG: Fans clamour for the next book in the series all the time, but I don’t let it bother me.  My sole duty is to the book.

MS: My first book was written while I was still very busy as a criminal lawyer.  Headhunter was successful and I did feel the pressure to write something at least as good.  I decided to write a thriller set in the rock ‘n’ roll world.  My rep got us tickets to Alice Cooper and he really liked Headhunter.  He invited me to send him my next novel.  I did and he wrote back: I don’t know if this will help.  “This book was terrifying.  I couldn’t put it down.” – Alice Cooper.  That endorsement sold the second book.

Q: Does the thrill remain?

DG: Absolutely.  I get a little thrill every time someone responds positively to my daily lines on Facebook.

CCH: Good reviews become reassuring friends in times of torment.

SK: Every time I finish a manuscript, I print it out and drop it on the table.  There’s something satisfying about the “thump.”  When the finished product arrives, there’s nothing like the smell of a new book.

JP: There were times when I was afraid everything I’d worked for would be taken away from me.  I was a single mother.  I feared being poor.

MS: It used to be that you had a 1 in 20,000 chance of success in publishing.  You never know when you’re going to make it big, or how.

SK: Persistence is the key. Download Headley’s “Anything” and listen to it repeatedly. Flaubert said, “Talent is a long patience…”  You have to think about the long game.

JP: Support is so important.  My ex never understood.  My current partner is a surfer and he feels the same way about the ocean as I do about writing.

DG: I have a fan club, the Ladies of Lallybrock, and they like to get together and have a fabulous time.

Q: Are there any downsides?

SK: I had a stalker.

JP: I received creepy letters from convicts.

Q: Do any of you have to content with JK Rowling’s issue?  She has so many people trying to hand her novels and scripts based on Harry Potter that she has someone who collects them all for her.

DG: I always tell people, sorry, I have an agreement with my publisher.

Q: Do you have a pen name picked out?

SK: No.

JP: Lauren Lyles

DG: No.

MS: Michael Slade is a pen name.  When I was trying to come up with it, I was thinking Declerque.  My wife said, very sensibly, no, you want a name with Biblical significance.  Michael.  Slade gives you some hard-boiled cred.  And so I became Michael Slade.  My wife created Michael Slade, and she knows copyright law.

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