John Lescroart is a New York Time bestselling author known for his series of legal and crime thriller novels featuring the character Dismas Hardy. His novels have sold more than ten million copies, have been translated into twenty-two languages in more than seventy-five countries, and fifteen of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list. He has a new novel out, The Keeper. John met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about his new release and how publishing has changed.
The Keeper got its earliest life because I had just read the novel “Gone Girl,” and decided that this whole missing person idea was powerful as can be, and that there were probably a million different ways to do it. At the same, I was looking for a new way to involve my character Abe Glitsky in a story that would do justice to him. And it turned out, I think, that I was right. From the minute that Katie Chase disappears — and it pretty much happens on page one, the story just flies along. And ironically enough, it’s nothing like “Gone Girl.” It turned out to be as fun and as different as I had hoped, and the early critics seem to agree.
During your career as a writer how would you say publishing has changed?
The entire landscape has changed in a very fundamental way. The biggest sign of this change is the self-publishing establishment. When I began trying to publish, in my twenties, it was virtually universally accepted that there was a certain objective quality standard that accompanied the publication of a book. There were a host of what I’d collectively call gatekeepers — agents, editors, publishers, even critics — whose main function was to identify writers who had achieved that standard and who were rewarded (even if not financially) by actual publication by (usually) a major publishing house, generally located in Manhattan. There was a concept called the “mid-list” where novelists would be shepherded through a first or a second or even fifth or sixth book because the writers were “good,” although they hadn’t yet been discovered, hadn’t written the “break-out” book. Many authors never did get that breakout moment, but the concept was pretty much universally accepted. People who “self-published” with “vanity houses” were not considered actually “published” writers. Nowadays, this distinction has almost entirely disappeared. There is no objective standard to define a book worthy of publication, and so we see 60,000 novels “published” in a year, with each one as worthy as the next. This, to me, is the biggest change in the industry, from which so many of the other changes flow.
As an author how have your views of justice changed over the years?
Having now written something like twenty books in the general vein of “legal thriller,” you might think that my view of justice would have significantly evolved. In fact, though, the reality is quite the opposite. In my very first “legal” book, Hard Evidence, I came across the adage that “Justice delayed is justice denied” and this simple truism is still one of the hallmarks of the true meaning of justice, and/or the quality thereof.
What else is on the cards for you this year?
I’ve got an amazing year ahead of me. First, on May 6 my latest Dismas Hardy/Abe Glitsky novel, THE KEEPER, is published and I will be spending much of that month on a book tour — always a great time. (See my website, www.johnlescroart.com, for details.) In the middle of that tour, in mid-May, my son Jack graduates from Georgetown Law School. In July I’ll be attending the International Thriller Writers big bash in NY, the Thrilllerfest, where I’ll be part of the Craftfest. I’m also featured as one of the 23 authors in the FACE OFF collection of short stories, where I teamed up with T. Jefferson Parker and we turned out a collaborative story featuring Joe Trona (from Jeff’s Edgar Award winning best novel, Silent Joe) and my own Wyatt Hunt. The story is called, appropriately enough, Silent Hunt. Next up is another milestone moment when my daughter Justine gets married to Josh Kastan in August. I suppose that somewhere during this time, I’ll also have finished the currently untitled book that I’m working on now. I’ve also signed up with Taxi.com, and I’m going to be devoting some time and effort in getting my songs places with artists and in movies and television. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. In all, it looks to be a full and exciting year.
Thank you John for an informative and perceptive interview.
Read more about THE KEEPER here.