half a degree of separation

It is my lovely editor Liz Scheier’s birthday today.

I was thinking about what a small world publishing really is. Let me demonstrate: over a year ago my agent Andrea Somberg sold my novel to Jennifer Heddle at Roc/NAL (NAL — North American Library, the mass-market fiction division of Penguin-Putnam). Then Jennifer leaves for Simon & Schuster and my book is in limbo for a bit. Enter Liz. Andrea sends me a note, saying something to the effect of, Liz is great. I know her. She’s actually a friend of mine. Time passes. Andrea takes a job at a different literary agency, moving from Vigliano to Harvey Klinger, but my book BLOODANGEL is contractually obligated to stay at Vigliano (although I myself am not), where it will now be represented by someone named Zoe Rice (I am assuming no relation to Anne or Christopher). Shortly after that I’m on the phone with Liz, who tells me something to the effect of, Zoe is great. I know her. She’s actually a friend of mine. During another phone conversation Liz and I are talking about ARCs — Advance Reading Copies — and I mention that I bought an ARC of MURDER OF ANGELS off Ebay some months ago. Liz suddenly says, “I’m Caitlin R. Kiernan’s editor now, did you know?” (I did know that Caitlin was with Roc — I remember looking at the ANGELS cover and hoping mine would turn out cool like that — but I thought her editor was somebody else. It was, but then that editor left, and Caitlin now deals with Liz). And let’s not forget that Poppy Z. Brite, who gave me that gracious quote I have so prominently displayed on my website — and which will feature just as prominently on my book — is friends with Caitlin. And on and on it goes.

One thing I had learned about the publishing industry in the many, many years I spent as a yearning unpublished novelist — now I shall be a yearning published novelist, since there’s always something to be yearning after, unless you’re, say, Stephen King, and I’m sure even he isn’t immune — but I digress — was that editors play musical chairs. They are constantly mixing it up, changing jobs, switching publishing houses, due in part, or largely, to the inherent volatile nature of the industry itself. (Cutbacks, big houses gobbling up smaller houses, etc.) This seems to apply about equally to agents: perhaps they intern at one agency, rise up through another, become hot stuff at yet another, then strike out on their own. So one of the results seems to be that everybody runs into everybody, eventually, if they stay in the game long enough.

But then, this is only conjecture on my part, since I’m all the way over on the other coast and, like most novelists, spend a freakish amount of time sitting alone in a room.

And while we’re talking about people knowing other people:

A friend of mine who knows Bret Easton Ellis sent me a copy of Bret’s soon-to-be-published manuscript, LUNAR PARK. The first fifty pages are a fascinating blend of autobiography and satire; riveting stuff. Bret carries his tradition of unreliable narrators one step further: in this book, we’ve got Bret the writer writing about Bret the first-person narrator who may or may not be imagining certain strange and horrifying things. “This is all true,” Bret assures us, but even if Bret the character is being completely straight with us, we know that Bret the writer, like all fiction strategists, is a consummate liar.

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