Friday, December 10, 2010

Dear Readers....

First of all, I owe you a big smacking slobbering thank-you kiss.

You see, a couple of months ago, I laid myself at your feet and begged your help on my next book. (The book, I mean, that will come AFTER the soon-to-be-released SCHOOL OF NIGHT.) I had been going round and round with my editor about what I should write about, and my well had run dry, and in frustration, I threw it open to you guys and – in all due seriousness – vowed to name a character after anybody who could come up with the Right Idea.

For my efforts, I was mocked by the Boston Globe’s Brainiac.
But I care not! Because in response to my plea, I received an astonishing outpouring of erudition and creativity – and, behind it all, genuine kindness.

And then something weird happened. I came up with an idea on my own. And my editor liked it. And off I go.

But it is a little disappointing not to be able to make good on my initial offer – unless I can find some way to name a character Reader. And I just might.

Please know that all your suggestions were deeply welcome and that I have by no means disregarded or discarded any of them. (A writer saves everything.) Unless, of course, you want to use them yourselves!

And now after all this, maybe you’re wondering what exactly is the subject of Opus Next? A combination of superstition and ignorance prevents me from disclosing too much. I will say only that, despite the parameters I mentioned in my last post, the book will have nothing to do with voodoo, and it will be set not in New Orleans but in Alsace-Lorraine. (Where, of course, I will have to do extensive research because that’s the sacrifice I make for my art.) I look forward to keeping you apprised of my progress – which is bound to be slow.

So – again – thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who responded.

IN THE MEANTIME … the finished and ready-to-go THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT will be rolling out in late March 2011! Some book-related appearances are already listed on this site, and I will be updating my calendar as more events are scheduled.

If you feel like getting nudged at regular intervals, feel free to friend me on Facebook – either Louis Bayard the Author (the page I started) or Louis Bayard is Badass (founded not by me, I promise, but by the delightful Eleanor Rapp). You can also follow me on Twitter. And on a side note, if you’re an “Amazing Race” fan, I am recapping the show every Sunday night for the Los Angeles Times Show Tracker blog.

The major event of this past month was going to Paris with my family for the rollout of the French translation of “The Black Tower” (“La Tour Noire”). Among the highlights:

** meeting my French translator, the estimable Jean-Luc Piningre

** conducting radio and TV interviews in French – a serious test of my extremely modest linguistic skills. (You can judge the results for yourself.)

** going with my son to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I know, I know, a tourist cliché – but when you’re doing it with your kid, it’s not a cliché anymore

** watching my boys jump on trampolines in the Tuileries Gardens
** presenting a French literary award – in French – to an Argentinian novelist who owns a bar in Madrid called Le Bukowski and who showed up for the occasion in a doo rag. And who ignored my outstretched hand. And who smelled like feet.

I hope you all have wonderful, peaceful holidays, and I look forward to seeing many of you in the New Year!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

You guys rock ... AND roll

Seriously, my readers have once again been a serious education for me. In response to my nakedly abject plea for help, I have received a steady stream of wonderful book-topic suggestions: Edgar Cayce, Dion Boucicault, H.P. Lovecraft, Zora Neale Hurston, Doc Holiday, Marie Laveau, and many more!

Thanks to everyone who took a moment to brainstorm with me. I wish I could say we have achieved liftoff, but this much I can say. In two days, I am heading to New York to have a "summit" with my editor (who, btw, is wonderful despite aforementioned frustrations). We will sit down together in a locked room, and neither of us will be able to leave until we have come to agreement. Will it take an hour? A day? A month? I don't care, I'm not leaving until we've got something.

At which point I will be happy to report what that something is. Personally, I can't wait to find out.

I was amused to see that my previous blog attracted the notice of the Boston Globe's Brainiac. ( From the tone of the column, he appears to to be politely aghast at my effrontery. Me, I just see it as part of the ongoing dialogue that happens between writers and readers.

And let's face it: You guys are smarter than me. I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Help Wanted!

Would you like to be a character in my next book?

Then help me figure out what my next book is about.

I’m quite serious.

See, I’ve just put the finishing touches on THE SCHOOL OF NIGHT (due out in March 2011 from Henry Holt) and I’m going through the usual dance with my editor about the subject of Opus Next. I like to call it “a dance” because that sounds better than “eviscerating pain at the subcellular level.”

Here’s the problem. This time around, the dance has become one of those marathon dances so popular in the 20s and 30s. Have you seen THEY SHOOT HORSES, DON’T THEY? Imagine my editor and me helplessly entwined, staggering across the dance floor, our muscles and joints porous with fatigue, our brains fading to black.

Or, to torture another metaphor: Imagine me tossing up ideas like skeet. And now imagine my editor putting each clay pigeon into her gunsights and blasting it into a shower of fragments.

That’s pretty much how it stands now. A good two dozen skeet … gone.

Now my editor’s tastes are contradictory and sometimes downright unfathomable, but this much I have gathered. She wants the book to be set in America. (Brazil? Bad.) She would like it to feature some famous literary figure (an author or a character). She would like it to flirt with the supernatural. (For some reason, she really inclines toward voodoo.)

And beyond that? Well, I'm tapped out.

Maybe after a week’s vacation, I’ll start churning out more ideas, but right now, I’m dry-heaving.

So I’m quite seriously begging your help, Readers! If you can come up with some idea that even vaguely meets the criteria sketched above and – this is a much bigger condition – IF this idea makes it over the fiercely guarded moat of my editor’s skepticism – then YOU (or at least someone bearing your name) will become a character in aforementioned novel. With all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto.

I’ll throw in a backrub. And I’ll be your BFF. And if I ever get another cat, I’ll name it after you, too. Regardless of the gender.

HELP … ME ….

If you’ve got some brilliant, unassailable idea that you’re willing to loan out, then e-mail it to me. Or just set it in flaming letters across the sky.

If I sound desperate, I am. There’s only so much rejection a middle-aged guy can take.

Lovingly, at your feet,


Thursday, April 8, 2010

So I’d been working on this book, The School of Night, for something like two years. And as I approached my drop-dead deadline of March 1, 2010, I found myself fantasizing in an almost erotic way about what I would do AFTER I turned in my rough draft. In no particular order:

• Practice piano
• Work on my garden
• Take long walks with my dog
• Take long bike rides around the cherry blossoms
• Lose ten pounds
• Go on school trips with my kids
• Read books. Dear God, books! Richard Price and Don DeLillo and Josephine Tey and pretty much anything less than 500 years old. Book after book after book, read not for research or profit but for the sheer unmitigated sexual pleasure of it.

So that was my plan. And then came:

• My son’s weekend-long baseball tournament in Taneytown, Maryland
• Two nights in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania (with a terrific group of students and faculty)
• Spring break
• St. Patrick’s Day
• Daylight Savings Time
• A long Easter weekend at the in-laws
• My dog dying

And now, three weeks later, the window has closed. An edited manuscript sits on my desk. Revisions have to be made. Another book remains to be conceived. And I seriously miss my dog.
And, on the whole, I still feel pretty lucky.
But I still want to lose ten pounds.