Sunday, April 25, 2010
Pro-File: Bev Vincent
Pro-File: Bev Vincent::
Bev Vincent is the author of The Road to the Dark Tower, the Bram Stoker Award nominated com panion to Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and a Stoker Award. His short fiction has appeared in places like Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, Who Died in Here? (mystery stories set in bathrooms!), From the Borderlands and the MWA anthology The Blue Religion. He is a contributing editor with Cemetery Dance magazine and a member of the Storytellers Unplugged blogging community. He also writes book reviews for Onyx Reviews.
1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).
My most recent project is a book commissioned by Barnes and Noble as part of their "readers' companion" series. It's called The Stephen King Illustrated Companion, and was published by B&N's Fall River Press imprint last fall. This profusely illustrated coffee table book uses King's biography as a lens through which to explore some of his more popular works. As an added bonus, King gave us access to his literary archives and photo albums, so the book has numerous envelopes containing reproductions of documents, including first draft manuscripts (some holographic, some handwritten), revised proof pages, juvenile works of fiction published in his high school newspaper, snippets of writing journals containing unpublished works or drafts of manuscripts that differ significantly from the published versions, etc. The attention to detail in these reproductions is gratifying--they look almost like original documents. The book is only available at B&N and, due to high demand, it will go into a second printing this summer. There will also be an Italian translation released later this year.
2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
After clearing my desk of most short-term commitments, I'm back at work on a novel. I completed the first draft some time ago and showed it to my agent, who agreed that it had promise but needed work. I'm currently re-plotting the book and preparing to tackle the second draft, which will be essentially a complete rewrite. The main character is a private detective who works as a bounty hunter and also participates in a reality TV show where cheating partners are exposed for all the world to see. His main case involves a mobster who skipped bail.
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Hearing from readers who take time out of their busy lives to tell me personally how much they like something I've written. Award nominations and glowing reviews are one thing, but this personal contact does wonders for the writer's soul, I think.
4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Not having as much time as I'd like to write. I'm not a full-time writer, and I don't resent the day job, which I've been working at for the past two decades, but if there were more hours in the day I think I could get a lot more done!
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?
Don't be too desperate to be published. Let it happen at its own pace. I've seen people do silly things (sign up with disreputable publishers or agents, self publish, etc.) because the burning desire to see their works in print got the best of them. Resist the temptation of the quick solution, because the long period it sometimes takes to get published is usually a much-needed apprenticeship during which time you improve your writing skills.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see in print again?
I'm not sure if they're out of print or forgotten, but I don't hear much mention of Ellery Queen (beyond the magazine that bears his name) and Rex Stout, both of whom I read avidly when I was young.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.
I've yet to sell a novel, but I remember well the circumstances surrounding the sale of my first book, The Road to the Dark Tower. I was flying by the seat of my pants, hoping I was doing everything right, and waiting for the wrecking ball to hit. Novice that I was, I sent my query letter to a person whose e-mail address I guessed (based on similar addresses with the publisher) and ended up directing it to the Vice President of Penguin Putnam! Fortunately, my query intrigued her and she conveyed it to the appropriate editor. After I developed a complete submission package with detailed chapter outlines, I sent it off with crossed fingers, along with copies of some of my Cemetery Dance columns and proof of my "platform," as they call it. The deal came together quickly and all of a sudden they were ready to make an offer, so I did some quick research on a literary agency and brought them up to speed, asking if they would represent me on this deal. Then I went back to Canada to visit my parents--at the time my father was in the end stages of cancer. So it was a surreal experience, fielding calls from my new agent as the offer and negotiations ensued while trying to deal with imminent loss at the same time. The bright moment from that time is that my father knew that I was going to have a book published.