BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Writing a Series vs. a Stand Alone: A Guest Post by Stefan Kanfer & A Giveaway

As a reader you may have a preference for whether you read books that are part of a series or strictly stand-alone or maybe, like myself, you enjoy both. Have you ever wondered about the writer's opinion, why he or she chooses one format over the other. Today action/adventure author Stefan Kanfer is here to talk about his thoughts on the subject and how he decides. 

Picture Stefan Kanfer is the author of fifteen books, including the bestselling biographies of show business icons: GROUCHO; BALL OF FIRE (Lucille Ball); SOMEBODY (Marlon Brando); and TOUGH WITHOUT A GUN (Humphrey Bogart). He has also written many social histories, among them THE LAST EMPIRE, about the De Beers diamond company, and STARDUST LOST, an account of the rise and fall of the Yiddish Theater in New York.

Kanfer also wrote two novels about World War II and served as the only journalist on the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. He was the first by-lined cinema critic for Time magazine, where he worked as writer and editor for more than two decades. He has been given many writing awards and was named a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He lives in New York where he serves as a columnist for the City Journal of the Manhattan Institute.

Find Stefan online:

Some novelists—Jim Thompson, for example—dislike repeating themselves, and make a point of changing the narrative tone, and the central characters, of their tales. Other novelists--Raymond Chandler, for example—prefer to employ the same narrator, and indeed, the same attitude, in book after book.

In the past I’ve followed the Thompson path.

The first two thrillers I wrote were centered on the Holocaust. One concerned the plight of the Gypsies, a group almost annihilated by the Nazis. The Eighth Sin is a first-person narrative of a young survivor, Benoit, irreversibly marked and marred by his experiences in a death camp, rescued by Allied troops, making his way in Europe, and then in the U.S., where he encounters the brother who betrayed the family.

The book did well—it was a Book of the Month selection and led to an appointment on the President’s Commission on the Holocaust. I was urged by several critics (among them the Nobel Laureate Elie Weisel) to continue Benoit’s autobiographical account.

But I felt that his experience was unique, and that to follow The Eighth Sin with the same cast of characters might lessen its impact. So I moved on.

Fear Itself is the story of Niccolo Levi, a Jewish-Italian actor whose wife is murdered by the Nazis early in the War. When he learns that the U.S. will not bomb the trains leading to Auschwitz, he decides to stow away on a boat, go to America and assassinate President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he holds personally responsible for American military policy. Another Jew, an OSS agent assigned to protect FDR, gets intelligence reporting the plans of this free-lance terrorist.

The trouble is, Niccolo is an actor capable of many disguises. He can be any race; he can make himself up to be an old man, a youth, even a woman. The breakneck race of assassin and agent takes almost the entire book. Deaths occur, and they’re not the ones the reader suspects. But a second volume would have been unthinkable.

In the intervening years, I turned my attention to social histories and biographies. Recently I decided to return to the thriller form. But this time I resolved to create a central character whose adventures (and misadventures) could be followed over a series of cities. The first was New York, the second Miami, and I’m currently working on one located in the Twin Cities of Minnesota.

Jordan Gulok is no ordinary protagonist. He’s an Eskimo—more properly, an Inuit—raised in the Arctic, stoical, intrepid, a great hunter and a true loner, cut off from his forbears but not quite a man of the Western World. Given a scholarship to Alaska University, he becomes a campus star, get recruited by the Navy, becomes a SEAL, and does so well that the Pentagon arranges for him to leave the service—in order to operate on his own. As a true outsider, he can thus do things that the Navy can’t do, including spying and, when necessary, dispatching enemies.

These assignments take him to all sorts of places within the U.S, where he meets all sorts of people, some of them very dangerous, some of them quite beautiful, all of them compelling. Jordan enjoys a generous expense account and the freedom make his own schedule, but the Navy, in turn, enjoys plausible deniability if he gets in difficulties. Which, of course, he does somewhere along the line.
How he emerges from those difficulties is what animates the Eskimo Hunts series. Jordan is a well-read and cultivated fellow, even if he is tougher than a piece of walrus leather, and at present I see no reason to write about any other adventurer. I enjoy his company too much for that, and, of course, I hope readers will as well.



Thanks to Authors on the Web, I have two special bound editions for giveaway - 1 copy of "The Eskimo Hunts in New York" (book #1 in the series) and 1 copy of "The Eskimo Hunts in Miami" (#2) to two different US winners. Enter using the rafflecopter widgets below. Please read my Giveaway Policy.  

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