Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Harsh Realities of Authorship

I have followed the work of Roger Jon Ellory ever since his strange debut novel, Candlemoth (one of January Magazine’s gift book picks of 2003) reached bookstores. Since then, I’ve enjoyed and reviewed Ghostheart (2004) and A Quiet Vendetta (2005). But, when I received Ellory’s fourth novel, City of Lies, this last summer, other obligations prevented me from critiquing that opus in print. I did pass review proofs of the book along to other critics, hoping they would read and review City of Lies, but no one took up the challenge. I finally sent an e-mail note to Ellory, explaining all of this. He was very gracious, being aware of the responsibilities that take up my time.

But as it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who failed to remark on City of Lies, which its author thinks is his best book yet. I just (very belatedly) came across this entry on Ellory’s blog:
I thought I’d say a little about the new book ‘City of Lies’.

The book was released last week--September 6th--and though I would have wished for fireworks and fanfares, for London bookstore opening parties, for readings and signings and splendid reviews in The Times, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Observer, this was--unfortunately--not the case!

What I got instead was a disgruntled store assistant telling me that ‘this book you’re talking about … the “City of Lies something-or-other” that you say should be on display … well it isn’t. We don’t have any. What do you want me to do about it then?’

What I got was Amazon telling me that if I ordered ‘City of Lies’ it would take four to six weeks to arrive as they had none in stock.

What I got was a visit to four independent shops in [my home city of] Birmingham to discover that the book was nowhere to be seen! …

These are the real realities of authorship I’m afraid. We all have them. Even the greatest authors in the world, the ones who sell hundreds of thousands of hardbacks, whose paperback releases top Number One in the Sunday Times Bestseller list three weeks before they’re even available ... even they have had such experiences ...
Fortunately, Ellory has apparently remained upbeat. In a subsequent post, he explains that his fifth novel, A Quiet Belief in Angels, is due out in August 2007 and that he’s gone back to work on a CIA-based thriller (tentatively titled The Night Skater) which his agent thinks is an appropriate follow-up to Angels. Ellory says he has also completed another novel, The Patron Saint of Thieves, which so far has no even vague publication date.


Anonymous said...

You meant Ellory not Ellroy I believe. All the predicaments this poor author has apparently endured, and now even his name is incorrect. All meant in levity. A bit ironic.- Or or you just pulling our leg and fully intended a fake faux pas? Mary Bjoraker

Ali Karim said...

Hi Mary -

Nope, the Ellory vs. Ellroy typo of mine was pointed out by Roger and it made me smile - He's a great writer and writes prolifically - Anyway, he's hard at it as ever and I'll be taking him to lunch shortly to see what's in store in 2007


J. Kingston Pierce said...

Oh, drat! I missed that typo. Poor Mr. Ellroy ... er, Ellory. I have now fixed the spelling.

-- Jeff

Ali Karim said...

Roger - emailed me - and he's funny bloke and took the Ellory vs. Ellroy dyslexia with a smile.

Pls see his message :-

Ali, Have a great Christmas...and as far as the ELLROY thing is concerned, if you can start circulating the word that Roger Jon Ellory is NOT - as has been reported on several lines - the illegitimate son of James Ellroy, nor is RJE a pseudonym for a very well known author etc etc..

Anyway, just so you're in the know...we ended up getting some fabulous reviews for City of Lies, the Guardian, Independent, Yourkshire Post et al (a few of which are in the Reviews section of my website), and the entire print run has sold through which is a good sign - Roger

More info is available at

And if you've not read thim, try City of Lies



Anonymous said...

I,ve read all of Roger Ellorys` books and i am currently reading Quite belief in Angels as a prisoner that reads a lot- would like to say this guy writes stuff in a way that lets you escape for a while and gives a new perspective to your own thinking and acceptance of self.His Books Should be pushed more