I’ve waited a long time to have C.J. to the blog because his visionary novel was one of the more unusual, intriguing ones I read last year, and it’s interesting that his reason for delay was a belief that he hadn’t made it yet. No one ever does! We’ve had international bestseller Sophie Hannah appear in this column, Edgar winner Stefanie Pintoff, Edgar nominee Tim Hallinan, and Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery winner Gerrie Ferris Finger, among many, many others–and none of them seem quite sure of the idea.
C.J.’s piece speaks to the reality that fans, movie options, and even being included in a school’s curriculum won’t be convincing. What then does constitute inarguable success? C.J. leaves us with a clue I’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.
I’m an optimist. Since most of us can make more money mowing lawns than writing novels, it takes an optimist to keep churning out pages day after day. When asked to write this column a year ago my answer was, “But I haven’t made it.” I haven’t reached my writing goals yet, but I have had some great moments along my journey that encourage me to get up each morning and rush to the keyboard.
My first moment came three years after I released Sin & Vengeance. A screenwriter contacted me and in a few months we signed a contract for a film option. The owner of a small production company loved her screenplay and we optioned it into development. We were just $3.5 million away from a finished film. Sadly, we are still looking for an investor, but the project convinced me that my work had spark.
I’ve had many moments with fans, but one really stands out. I was invited to a Christmas party by a woman who read my books and shared them with friends. When I arrived a man I didn’t know grabbed me by the arm (literally) and raved to me for an hour about Sin & Vengeance. At my next book launch, he bought 16 books and mailed them to friends.
My latest moment came when a university criminal justice professor emailed to tell me he wanted to use The End of Marking Time as part of his curriculum. Having my work used by students was a tremendous honor and it left me feeling that my work had merit.
These three moments tell me my work is resonating with readers and it is only a matter of time before I reach enough of them to get where I’ll believe I’ve made it.
C.J. West is the author of the thrillers The End of Marking Time, Sin and Vengeance, A Demon Awaits, Gretchen Greene and Taking Stock. Sin and Vengeance, the first book in C.J.’s Randy Black series, is currently in development for film with Beantown Productions, LLC (screenplay by Marla Cukor). C.J. also hosts a Blog Talk Radio show which features interviews of contemporary thriller and suspense writers. Find C.J. at www.22wb.com or at www.cjwestkills.wordpress.com.