Monday, 31 March 2008
Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die by Howard Waldman
Publisher: BeWrite Books (UK)
Price: £ 9.50 ($18.99)
WHAT IS YOUR BOOK ABOUT?
The Kingdom of Heaven has been downsized to a single city, and to save overcrowding, God has a new chosen race and set of entry qualifications.
In the modern hereafter only good Americans go to Paris when they die.
But not even a divinely ordered bureaucracy is infallible and five not so good Americans find themselves posthumously thrown together and trapped in a surreal limbo:
Randy 1900s marine Louis Forster; Maggie Thompson, an over-sexed 1930s fan dancer; neurotic 1940s New York intellectual Seymour Stein; Helen Ricchi, the mysterious and bookish wallflower suspected of foul play after her husband’s disappearance in the 1950s; and modern-day Las Vegas bore, truck driver Max Pilsudski.
And the ill assorted desperate departed will stop at nothing in a seemingly impossible quest to return to the land of the living and repair flawed lives and fractured loves.
WHY DID YOU WRITE THIS BOOK?
I seemed qualified to illustrate the famous saying, “Good Americans go to Paris when they die.” Although not necessarily good and not yet dead, I am an American and have lived in Paris for decades. I know what I’m talking about when I talk about Paris, at least the Paris on this side of the death barrier. The theme of lost love used to occupy my insomniac hours: what if I’d undone fatal mistakes or corrected fatal omissions? Where would I be now? Useless conjecture for me (and for you too) but that seems to be a possibility for the characters in Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die: to return, youthful again, to their lover and with hindsight do the right things.
WHERE DID YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM?
All of my novels (question of age perhaps?) are concerned with the salvaging of the past. In the Seventh Candidate the arch conservative protagonist, who earns his living effacing obscene graffiti from subway posters, longs for the supposed decencies of bygone decades. In Time Travail the protagonist devises a machine to pull in imperfect images of his long dead loved ones from the past. Finally in Back There, the aging hero relives his youthful Paris love and in the writing of it tries to modify reality.
In the other side Préfecture de Police, the protagonists of Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die find themselves caught in the slow moving wheels of bureaucracy. Inspiration on this subject came easily to me. Having spent most of my professional career as a teacher in the French educational system, I have a first hand knowledge of the functioning (to say nothing of the malfunctioning) of French bureaucracy.
HOW DOES YOUR BOOK DIFFER FROM OTHERS THAT ARE SIMILAR?
To my knowledge no book is similar to this one, otherwise I’d never have written it. If what I have to say echoes other men’s voices, I prefer to keep my mouth shut. Although a fantasy novel, Good Americans Go to Paris when they Die is free of elves, dragons, or vampires (at least of the conventional blood sucking variety).
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE POD?
For the usual reason: failure to get published by a conventional publisher. I sent the habitual cover letter, synopsis and opening three chapters of my first novel, Time Travail, to ten publishers on the other side of the Atlantic. The postage for that much weight cost 15 Euros a throw, the equivalent of a bottle of good Scotch. I gave up when I discovered that all of these publishers had done away with a human Submissions Editor in favoUr of the Kirubawaki XL289 Manuscript Slush Pile Processing Machine. This ingenious apparatus recycles all submitted manuscripts to paper on which it prints the form rejection slip (It inspired a short story, available on demand). I redirected my saved money in bottled consolation. Fortunately Jacobyte Books, an Australian POD publisher, accepted my book and then a second one. Later Jacobyte merged with my present publisher BeWrite Books, based in the UK.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THIS METHOD?
One great advantage of POD compared to conventional publishing is that the book remains constantly available, printed up at a touch. Moreover, the small publisher using this technique can afford to take chances on an off beat author since his overhead is reduced: no need to maintain a stockpile of books to gather dust while waiting for readers. The disadvantages of POD are obvious. Normally bricks and mortar bookstores won’t handle them. In addition, in terms of budget, POD publishers are small time operators, with little possibility for big scale promotion of their titles. The author has to do most of the work - if he’s able to.
HOW DO YOU MARKET YOUR BOOK?
Quite poorly for reasons given below.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE YOU HAD TO OVERCOME?
So far as marketing challenges are concerned: living in a non English speaking country. That ruled out radio and TV interviews, book signings, library contacts, and all the other laborious but profitable devices to dig up readers. I can’t even count on inner circle purchases and resulting word of mouth publicity. No aged aunts or curious neighbours to come to my rescue. Fact is, outside of my wife, none of the members of my family (not even my three boys) have a solid enough knowledge of English to read what I write. So it goes.
WHERE CAN I GET A COPY OF YOUR BOOK?
On Amazon and BeWrite.net. My other novels, Time Travail, The Seventh Candidate and Back There are also available on these sites.
EXCERPTS FROM YOUR BOOK