First, a quick look back at 2019. It was a busy year!
The year began with my getting over the Norovirus. I’m here to tell you, if you’re looking for a quick weight-loss plan, this is the way to go. I dropped about 12 pounds in 24 hours. I also can tell you that if you start the year like this, it has to get better!
In February, my wife, Neetha, and I went to Scottsdale, Arizona, where I interviewed Ian Rankin at Poisoned Pen, Barbara Peters’ fabulous bookstore.
My thriller for young readers, Chase, won the Silver Birch award in Ontario in May, and its sequel, Escape, won the Arthur Ellis award in Canada for best crime novel for young
readers. In this CBC video, designed as a teacher's guide for aspiring young writers, I read from the beginning of Escape, and talk about how to get the reader's attention on that very first page.
September brought the launch of my latest thriller, Elevator Pitch, and tours of Ireland, the UK and the US. The book spent weeks on several bestseller lists, garnered terrific reviews, and even made “best of 2019” lists by Library Journal and The Rap Sheet.
And on Friday, author Lee Goldberg had this to say about it: "I loved Linwood Barclay's clever, funny, fast-moving thriller Elevator Pitch. You've heard of Summer Popcorn Movies? This is a Summer Popcorn Novel. Jaws meets The Towering Inferno meets Black Sunday. Enormously entertaining. Pure fun. Someone resurrect Irwin Allen and get this movie made!"
North American Cover
A tour highlight? Having another onstage chat with Ian Rankin, in Edinburgh, followed by a trip to the pub he’s made famous, The Oxford Bar.
And I returned from those tours just six days before our daughter got married. But it was not necessary for me to be here in the weeks leading up to that grand event because it was clear that my opinion was not wanted on anything. I was allowed to give a toast, which everyone seemed to like.
The fall brought the Toronto International Festival of Authors, where on the festival’s opening night I had the pleasure of interviewing Don Winslow. I’d been a fan for a long time, but this was my first chance to have a one-to-one conversation with him. It was a great night.
Now, looking forward to 2020:
Next year might be a little quieter than usual. I do not expect to have a new book out next year. I typically would have a new novel out in September, but we are thinking of delaying that until January or February of 2021. There are a couple of reasons. The first is, I came up with an idea for a thriller that my editors loved so much that they wanted it to be my next book, even if that meant delaying the publication date. And second, getting attention for a book that comes out in the fall of 2020 is not going to be easy. The US election promises to be a circus that will, as the saying goes, suck all the oxygen out of the room.
You may be thinking, What about that thriller I was writing about
self-driving cars running amok? We’re still sorting out how to present that novel. It’s a great read (if I may say so myself), but it’s so different than the kind of book I usually write that we’re taking our time deciding just how we’ll roll that one out. Stay tuned.
And of course, Elevator Pitch will be coming out in paperback in 2020 at different times in different countries.
In the US, it comes out in a mass market paperback edition on April 28th. In the UK and Ireland, readers will be able to get a paperback edition even earlier, on February 20th.The Canadian paperback is expected later in the year. I should have a date for that in the next newsletter.
Know Someone Who Can’t Stand Doug Ford? Know Someone Who Loves Him?
If you live in the Canadian province of Ontario, I don’t have to tell you who Doug Ford is. But for the rest of you, he is the provincial premier, the guy who makes the big decisions. And if you feel the same way I do, none of them have been good ones. He’s slashing funds from everything to schools to hospitals, and while he seems to know the cost of everything, he doesn’t know the value of anything. Except for maybe a tax cut for his well-off friends.
Twenty-one years ago, I wrote a satirical take on a different Ontario premier, which was called Mike Harris Made Me Eat My Dog. The publisher of that book got in touch and said if I wanted to do a similar book on Doug Ford, he’d print it. I took the bait, and in nine days wrote Ford
AbomiNation. It’s very scholarly. You can tell because it has footnotes. Also, cartoons by celebrated Canadian political cartoonist Brian Gable.
What I’m Reading and Watching
I feel I’m way behind on movies these days and can’t remember the last time I went to an actual theatre to see something. But we did catch The Irishman on Netflix. Don’t be put off by how long it is. The time just flew by. Watching DeNiro and Pesci and Pacino is a cinematic joy. You can’t take your eyes off them.
We’re still binge-watching series, and some of our favourites this year have been "The Deuce" (one of the best TV series ever made), "Castle Rock" (season two surpasses season one), "Watchmen" (I don’t know what the hell is happening, but I’m still loving it), "Mindhunter" (yikes), and "Fosse/Verdon" (without doubt, the finest limited TV series EVER). Note that doing that second
season of "Big Little Lies" was a HUGE mistake.
I’m currently reading Steph Cha’s Your House Will Pay and really enjoying it. Some of the other books that come to mind are Ace Atkins’ latest Spenser novel, Angel Eyes, and his latest Quinn Colson book, The Shameless. I thought The Institute, by Stephen King, was his most thrilling novel in decades. A standout. James Lee Burke’s The New Iberia Blues left me in awe, as did Don Winslow’s The Border. And Gilly Macmillan’s The Nanny was especially creepy.
The Movie and TV Front
Not a lot of news here. My Promise Falls trilogy, consisting of Broken Promise, Far From True and The Twenty-Three, is still in development with a Canadian network for a possible TV series. I have written a pilot episode for it, and the project is still percolating along. Will it happen? That’s anyone’s guess. Keep those fingers crossed.
A few months ago, I wrote a screenplay based on my novel Fear the Worst (perhaps the only novel ever where the hero is a car salesman) that a producer friend is shopping around. But it’s early days there. And of course, everyone is saying Elevator Pitch would make a terrific movie, and I couldn’t agree more. Don’t uncross those fingers.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. There are two groups out there I remain especially grateful to, and I want to thank them.
First, all of you getting this newsletter. My readers. Thank you for picking up one of my books. If you’d told me 15 years ago I’d have this many fans – and that I would even have a career as a novelist – I wouldn’t have believed it.
Second, booksellers. Word of mouth is everything in this business, and having the support of booksellers means everything. Thank you for all you do, and not just for me, but for all authors.
Season’s Greetings to all, and have a very Happy New Year!