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Monday, November 1, 2010

Marketing advice for us from our "Hero"

Loraine and I were dining with Nick Kangles (the man whose name we borrowed for our hero of Obelisk Seven) and his wife Valerie, and the conversation turned to our marketing efforts for our novel, and then veered to the latest best selling Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson.
Larsson had no doubt about why he was writing his crime novels, as this extract from a New York Times article shows:
Mikael Ekman, a friend and protégé of Larsson’s who collaborated with him on a nonfiction book, recalls sitting with Larsson one night in 2001. “We were drinking a little too much whiskey,” he told me, “and Stieg started talking about what he’d do when he was too old to work anymore. He said, ‘I will write a couple of books and become a millionaire.’ I laughed at him. I thought he was crazy.”
Unfortunately, Larsson died before the first of this three novels was published – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Since his untimely death at the age of 50, Larsson's books have become international best sellers. The NYT article describes his last words:
Three years ago, a man named Bosse Schon, who is a sort of professional Nazi hunter (and who might not have been averse to drumming up a little publicity for a TV documentary he had coming out), told Aftonbladet, Sweden’s leading afternoon daily, that he knew of a plot to kill Larsson, hatched in a pub years ago by a Swede who had served in the SS. But the evidence is close to overwhelming that Larsson died of a massive heart attack. Everyone agrees that he took terrible care of himself. He didn’t exercise, he smoked a lot and if he ever ate a green vegetable, no one has reported it. On the afternoon of Nov. 9, 2004 — the anniversary of Kristallnacht, if you’re looking for an eerie coincidence — the elevator at Expo wasn’t working, and Larsson climbed the seven flights to his office, where he collapsed. According to Kurdo Baksi, his last words were, “I’m 50, for Christ’s sake!”
Perhaps, he suggested tentatively, I should consider the magnificent marketing thrust which Larsson's premature death gave to his Trilogy ...
After a few moments silence, I turned down Nick's suggestion.
Best stick to lawyering, I advised him, and leave aside marketing for aspiring best selling authors.
Especially advice which indicated that the aspiring best selling author might wish to contemplate an early demise to add oomph to the marketing – posthumously – of the author's novel.
The rest of our dinner with Nick and Valerie was much, much better!
I must confess that not only did I enjoy the three movies the Millenium Trilogy was turned into, but I really liked the the models used by Larsson for his heroine (from Wikipedia):
Larsson explained that one of his main recurring characters in the Millennium series, Lisbeth Salander, is actually fashioned on a grown-up Pippi Longstocking as he chose to sketch her.
There are also similarities between Larsson's Lisbeth Salander and Peter O'Donnell's Modesty Blaise. Both are women from disastrous childhoods who somehow survive to become adults with notable skills, including fighting, and who accomplish good by operating somewhat outside the law.
Pippi I knew not (but have since discovered that this fictional character in a series of children's books by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren was very popular; Pippi – aged nine and unwilling to grow up – is an assertive kid with superhuman strength and could lift her own horse up.
Modesty Blaise is one of my favorite characters.

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