Monthly Archives: August 2010

It’s Greek to me

When St. Martin’s Press sold “Crashers” to a Japanese publishing company, my editor, Keith, told me there was a catch: “The Japanese editor thinks you do a reveal too early. He wants to push it back.”

Translation: A “reveal” is a drawing back of the curtain and a “voila!” moment in a story. For “Crashers,” I give away the identity of one of the bad guys really early in the book. I want the audience to know who he is and to see some of the story through his twisted point of view.

The Japanese editor believed that, for a Japanese audience, this reveal comes too early and will rob the book of some tension.

I asked Keith, “What should I do?”

Keith – whom I adore – is every bit the pragmatist. “Well, first? It isn’t that big a change and it doesn’t affect the outcome of the story,” he said. “And second? It’s in @#$%& Japanese! You couldn’t read it anyway! The hell do you care?”

See why I adore him?

Great screen writing

The best caper film of the last couple of years has to be “The Brothers Bloom” by writer/director Rian Johnson.

The beauty isn’t just in the story, which is lush, but it’s in the clever ways Johnson breaks the rules of writing. You can’t break the rules if you don’t know how to play the game (thus speaketh Rickie Lee Jones).

• The Brothers Bloom (Adrian Brody Mark Ruffalo) and are named Stephan and Bloom. And the latter is our protagonist. So either his name is “Bloom Bloom” or we never learn the given name of our protagonist.

• The story takes place in neverwhere. That is: It’s a mélange of past and present. People have cell phones and this year’s make of car, but people also take steam ships to Europe and send ‘wires’ to each other. Adrian Brody wears a bowler and ascots. There’s no way of knowing exactly when this story takes place.

• Japanese actress Rinko Kikuchi plays Boom Boom, the third member of the con artist gang, whose arena is pyrotechnics. We’re told she speaks only three words of English, yet she hears and understands all of the dialogue, she dictates a wire message, etc. It’s a lovely bit of storytelling, having her not speak English and clearly understanding English.

Go rent “The Brothers Bloom.” It’s a joyous, over-the-top romp.

Italy rocks

Crashers was published in Italian by Rizzoli and I sent a note to the editor there, thanking him for producing such a rich-looking novel with such a cool cover. Now, my Italian is rudimentary at best. And this guy, Stefano? His English is about as good as my Italian.

But his note back to me is so funny and sweet!

“Your novel isn’t not yours (as you perfectly know, the parabola and the curse of the author) because lives his own life in every italian bookstore (13000 copies out) killing his father and inventor (you can have only rights, I hope a great amount of, ah, ah).”

Translation: The book is out, 13,000 strong, and living its own life right now. It’s touring Italy while you’re not, Haynes.

“I’m not flattering you describing how much I enjoyed the reading and the judge of the bookseller about the jacket hasn’t been so good: too dark they say. My answer was xxx.”

Translation: I like your book. The booksellers don’t like the cover so much. It’s too dark, they think. My response to them: @#$%&”

“Your next enterprise? Keep in touch and let me know. Ciao


Letters like that are what keep a guy going. Stefano? Ciao, fratello. Grazie a mille.

(Rizzoli did an online trailer for the book. I’ve no idea why. I love the fact that the trailer identifies me as “Donna Hines.” You can see it by clicking here.)

Fans rock

OK, this is maybe the sweetest e-mail I've received yet.

You came into Trader Joe's in Lake Oswego one night and I rang up your purchase. We had a conversation about I don't remember what, and before you left, you shook my hand. I was so impressed. Your lady friend came back to get something she forgot. I had overheard her say something about a celebration and I inquired. She mentioned your book and invited me to the signing at Powell's. I loved crashers, read it in two days.  Please keep writing. And thanks for being a good guy, too.


Murder, they taught

Sisters in Crime (Portland chapter) and Portland Community College’s Community Education Program are teaming up for a mystery-writing workshop.

Speakers include Chelsea Cain, Sharan Newman, Robert Ray, April Henry and yours truly. Murder By the Book will be there to talk about hot trends in the mystery/thriller genre.

The workshop is set for 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18. Cost is $69, which includes a boxed lunch.

To sign up, click here, click “Fall 2010 Noncredit Classes,” then “Art of Writing” under “A” in the “Class Topics” list. Hit “Sisters in Crime: Mystery Writers Workshop,” then click “Registration” for online and telephone registration instructions. Or call (503) 977-4234.

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