Wednesday, April 10, 2013

John Lescroart's The Ophelia Cut

Launch Party in Davis

CapRadio Reads presents John Lescroart's The Ophelia Cut.  You are invited to attend the Launch Party of the year.  Our May selection for CapRadio Reads is the soon to be published book by local New York Times bestselling author John Lescroart, The Ophelia Cut. As a special treat for our loyal CapRadio Readers, 100 of you may sign up to join us for a reserved seat at this very special occasion. John will be in conversation with our Morning Edition host Donna Apidone. There will be great food and wine and fun live music.  You surely don't want to miss this evening so SIGN UP HERE .
Because this book will not be released until the day of the party, I thought you might want to hear from the author himself. In the next few weeks I will be publishing pieces of my interview with Mr. Lescroart. He will also be taking questions at his party, so think of some things you've always wanted to ask him.  I hope you enjoy the Q&A here, and hope to see you at the party.

V.L.: John, this is the first book with a brand new publisher.  After I read it I really felt you had a new liveliness to your writing. What about this book feels "new" to you?

J.L.:I had been publishing with Dutton Books for a long time and all of the twelve books I'd written for them, beginning with The Oath, had been NY Times bestsellers.

And for every book over those dozen years, Dutton and I labored to increase my visibility and grow sales, etc. After the first six or seven of these books, my trajectory (gotta love these publishing terms) remained fairly flat -- the latest book would get great reviews and come out somewhere around the middle of the NY Times list, would hang around for two to five weeks, and then disappear.

So, in an effort to "freshen" (another great word) the product, Dutton suggested that I write a little bit different kind of book, one with perhaps a younger protagonist, and not so lawyerly as Dismas Hardy. In response, I wrote The Hunt Club, introducing Wyatt Hunt as a private investigator. The book did fine (after all, hitting the Times list shouldn't in theory be considered failing), but about the same as all the rest.

Then, since I'd broken the Dismas Hardy stranglehold and "proven" that I could write a different kind of book, maybe I could get a bump in my female audience if I wrote a female protagonist, so I wrote The Suspect, featuring Gina Roake as my main character. That book, named the 2007 Book of the Year by the American Authors Association, had about the same sales as The Hunt Club. So, then, how about a military thriller? Maybe that . . . etc. And so came Betrayal.

Then, seeking to find the magic formula (a key word here, by the way), I went back to a Hardy book with A Plague of Secrets, another Hunt book with Treasure Hunt, then a Glitsky/Farrell book with Damage. The sales profile on all of these books remained constant -- not much down, not much up. Then, with last year's The Hunter -- a book that I personally loved, the bottom fell out. Though it, too, made the Times list (albeit for only one week), distribution was pretty much non-existent and sales, therefore, were dismal.

The general rule in publishing is that if your book is a hit, it's because of the publisher, and if not, it's the author's fault. So my agent and I, not accepting this worldview, decided to leave Dutton and get a new publisher. In a short while, we got a very nice three-book deal from Atria, and suddenly I was contractually free to write any kind of book I wanted. And then, suddenly, no longer did I feel that I was going to have to write "to the market."

As detailed above, I'd tried several different approaches over the past several years, and I'd come to realize that the main thing I had to do was just have fun and write what I wanted -- it would probably urn out to be a quality product, readable and interesting. So, as I started the actual writing of The Ophelia Cut, I rather consciously did not worry too much about the plot -- I knew I had the bones of a very good story, and so I didn't worry about who the "protagonist" was, or if the plot was linear enough. I came into work every day and threw in every cool idea that struck me, and before too long, the book had taken on a life of its own, coming in at about 200 pages longer than my last several Dutton books. What was "new" here was this new-found sense of freedom and confidence, and I think it shines through on every page. And I'm glad it struck you that way, too.




  1. So no book to read this month? Is The Ophelia Cut to be discussed at the June meeting? I'm confused. Are we taking a hiatus for a few weeks? That's not a problem, as I always have a stack of books to get to :-) I just want to make sure I'm up to date on everything.

  2. You have a few weeks off from "assigned" reading, but you may want to catch up on some of John Lescroart's previous books to prepare. Or, do as I'm doing and grab a copy of Z: A novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. You'll be in the mood when The Great Gatsby movie comes out.

  3. I hope you all are not envious that I read an advance copy of The Ophelia Cut. I've been a John Lescroart fan for many years. I noticed the "freshened" approach, and I am delighted at the way it enhanced John's work. It's always a joy to pick up a Lescroart book, and The Ophelia Cut may become your favorite. See you all in May!

  4. Another failed publisher for an established and well-loved author--seems to be becoming something of a trend.