I read a lot. I read roughly 80 books a year. I read about 75% non-fiction. I often spend lots of time searching Amazon, or NetGalley, or GoodReads looking for some random book that will be interesting. I sometimes wonder how authors find topics to write about. I picked up Incendiary from Netgalley a while back (my review here). Upon finishing it, I happened to contacted by the St. Martin’s Press’s marketing guy Joe asking if I had any questions for the author. I sure did. I wanted to know how authors found obscure little topics to intrigue us with. Michael Cannell was nice enough to give me a response.
“Five years ago a writer named Paul Hendrickson spoke at a writer’s conference in Ketchum, Idaho. I’m not one for conferences. I’d rather write than discuss writing. But I happened to be in town. I’d admired his book, “Hemingway’s Boat.” So I took my seat on the appointed evening.
At some point, Hendrickson said this: writers can’t find book subjects. The subjects have to find them. I laughed to myself. Writers are forever saying such things.
A few years later I was reading a 1958 edition of an Argentine newspaper on microfilm in The New York Public Library while researching my book “The Limit.” As I scanned the pages a headline jumped out. It concerned the manhunt for the “the Mad Bomber of New York.” Even before I read the article I had a hunch that would be my next book. It turned out Hendrickson was exactly right. I could never have found the story of a serial bomber in 1950s New York. The subject had to find me. “
Here is the thing that I loved most of all. Mr. Cannell didn’t give some canned response as I would expect from a big-time author. As with any artist, I am always intrigued by how they create their art. Thank you, Mr. Cannell for taking the time to give me a little insight into the process.
If you haven’t checked out Incendiary I highly recommend it.
I gave it 4.25 stars and I am a pretty harsh critic. Since Mr. Cannell took time to give me a real response, he now has me forever as a fan.