Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Behind the scenes

Writing is a lonely pursuit but the community is strong and supportive. There are many unsung acts of kindness and generosity going on behind the scenes. Tell us who has mentored you in your writing career or gone above and beyond to help you get a leg up in the business.

by Dietrich

Solo maybe, but never lonely.

I first noticed the generosity of the writing community soon after I signed the contract for my first novel. Months before the book was released I traveled to Albany to my first Bouchercon. My publisher Jack David recommended that I check it out, then arranged for me to catch a ride from Toronto with Canadian author John McFetridge, a guy I hadn’t met, but a crime- fiction author who I’d been reading for years, one of Canada’s best in my opinion. Needless to say, I was thrilled to go on that road trip. We got along really well, had a lot of common interests, and I learned a lot about the industry from John on that drive. At the conference, I met a lot of other authors and folks in the business, along with many avid readers. And right out of the gate, I was taken by the sense of community and the level of support writers had for each other. As a matter of fact, a couple of the writers I met there write or have written on this blog.

Two years after that one, publisher Jack piled a van full of ECW authors, John McFetridge among them, and we drove from Toronto to Bouchercon in North Carolina. Over a dozen hours on the road one way, we arrived in the wee hours. During the next few days, I again noticed the camaraderie and support of the writing community.

After the first book came out, I attended many writing events and book launches and festivals. I met a lot of writers, and I picked up some tips by watching pros like William Deverell and Owen Laukkanen entertain audiences at their book launches.

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” — Ernest Hemingway

After catching the event-bug, I started organizing Noir at the Bar events here in Vancouver. I really didn’t have a clue about what I was doing at first, I just wanted to see it happen, and I was pleased that authors were eager to sign up and even more pleased with the great turnouts that these events have had over the years. And I need to mention the great deal of support from one of my favorite local bookshops, White Dwarf/DeadWrite Books. The owners, Walter and Jill, have been at every event, bringing and selling books for all the authors that have taken part since the first one back in 2014.

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.”

— Richard Bach 

Every great writer I’ve ever read over the years has been a mentor. Their words continue to inspire me and make me want to do better. Then there’s Jack and everybody at ECW Press who have worked on one aspect or another of my stories, and there’s Emily Schultz who’s been my editor through eight novels to date, and she’s so good at what she does – a great author too.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” — Louis L’Amour

Every writer knows what it takes to put out a finished work, so it’s a good thing writers tend to be supportive of each other – funny way to behave really since we’re all competitors too.


Paul D. Marks said...

I think we all come into this game thinking it's going to be one way and it turns out to be very different, Dietrich. So it's definitely nice to have the support of the writers community to help show us the way and help us over the rough spots.

Brenda Chapman said...

I love that your publisher arranged for you to go on your first book trip with John McFetridge and then a van to take a bunch of you to another conference. What wonderful support. I'm also always amazed by the mentoring that established authors offer to new writers. It's a part of the business that is sometimes unrecognized but so important.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

All that support has been very important. Thanks Paul and Brenda.

Susan C Shea said...

We may be competitors in some sense, but not really. Every crime fiction book sold draws another reader into looking for crime fiction. And our readers are real book buyers. I think we have built a community of readers and, to a great extent, we all benefit.

Love the Louis L'Amour quote. I think I'll copy it and print it out to put on the whiteboard. A good nag!

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Thanks, Susan.