Jun 04 2009


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Wenton blew a huge cloud of cigar smoke and said, “Look, Greg, if you’re having trouble with your book, put it on the shelf and work on something different for a while. No novelist worth their salt should be publishing under only one name.”

“How do you mean?” said Greg.

“Well look at Stephen King. When he needed a break from ‘being Stephen King,’ he’d write as ‘Richard Bachman.’ Barbara Mertz had two parallel careers, both floating around mystery and horror, one as Elizabeth Peters and one as Barbara Michaels. Your pen-name is your brand, you see. You’ve established ‘Greg Bumerli’ as a breezy comedy writer; now pick some other genre you love and write something totally new under a different name. If it’s a hit, you’ve now doubled your revenue stream; if it’s a flop, it won’t hurt your main line.”

“Do you do that?” Greg asked. “I’ve never heard of you using other names. But I guess when you’re The Man Who Reinvented the Whodunit, you don’t need to, either.”

“Pfft,” said Delaney. “The whodunits I do for love. They’re not how I make my living. I’ve written fifteen trashy airport novels about Paris Blaze, a woman cop whose career revolves around going undercover in the harsh, crime-ridden underworld of bisexual nymphomaniac swimsuit models.”

“Uh huh,” said Greg. “At least you kept it classy.”

“You laugh. But the film rights alone paid for my house.”

“There’s a film?”

“Not yet,” said Delaney, and drew at his cigar again. “And if the world’s lucky, there never will be. But if there is, I get one percent of the domestic gross and an option on sequels.”

“And there goes another facet of my youthful innocence dashed,” said Greg.

“Well at least you heard it from a friend,” said Delaney, and quaffed his drink.

-The Gneech

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