December 27, 2011

Made It Moment: Leighton Gage

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 8:51 am

A Vine In The Blood

It is a particular pleasure of mine when I can present an author who has meant a great deal to me as both reader and writer. Leighton Gage has a generous writer’s heart, and he is also a gifted author. I’ve referred in interviews of my own to Leighton’s sense of place, which brings the heated, tempestuous forces of his current homeland of Brazil to life. Today I am thrilled to be celebrating the release of Leighton’s fifth Mario Silva novel by sharing his Made It Moment. I hope you will enjoy it, and also discover Leighton’s work or top off your collection of his series with this latest. If you like fiction that exposes you to new worlds–in all their raw reality–these novels will deliver thrills.

Leighton Gage

My Made It Moment was supposed to be at 9:00 AM, EST, on Tuesday, the 27th of December, 2011.

9:00 AM, because that’s when bookstores on the east coast of North America start opening their doors.

And the 27th of December, because that’s the official launch date of my fifth book, A Vine in the Blood.

Where did I get a weird idea like that?

Bear with me; I’ll tell you.

A little over a decade ago, when I sat down to pound-out my first novel, conventional wisdom had it that you couldn’t be said to have “made it” if you’d only published one.

If you aspired to be an author who lived from your earnings, you had to have at least five books in print, four to generate money on your backlist and one to pay back your advance.

Five, my friends, was the magic number.

Don’t do that, please: don’t bring up Harper Lee. I know she’s still living, more than fifty years on, from that splendid first-and-only of hers. But for us mere mortals, literary success and continuity go hand-in-hand.

Five years after setting forth on the rocky road, I’d paid my dues. I’d committed my two “learning books” to the scrap heap; I’d found an agent and a publisher; I’d successfully survived editing, the corrections of my galleys and the joy of my first launch.

There I was, like Moses on the mountaintop, looking down on the Promised Land of Literary Success.

Just four more to go, I thought.

But then, on the nineteenth of November, 2007, Amazon launched the Kindle.

And the goalposts shifted.

Thousands of authors discovered they could do an end-run around the “gatekeepers” and offer their books for rock-bottom prices.

And they did.

Publishers, many of them working to a suddenly outmoded model, started getting squeezed.

Print runs shrank. Mass market paperbacks took a hit from which they’ll never recover. Hard cover sales tanked.

The vested interests tried to hold back the digital tide by selling eBooks books at paper prices.

Customers revolted.

The market fragmented.

Advances plummeted. (“The new $50,000 is $5,000,” one publisher was heard to say.)

And a number of authors with six, seven, eight published works to their credit started getting dropped by their publishers.

Not me.

Soho Crime just bought my sixth book. A short time ago, my second was published in Finland, and my third in the Netherlands. France and Italy will publish in the spring. Two other European markets are currently under negotiation.

So I really can’t complain.

But am I comfortable?

No, I’m not.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, in this Brave New World of publishing, ten books is the new five.

God willing, my tenth book will go on sale, in (the remaining) bookstores and across the internet, in December of 2016.

By that time, Brazil will have hosted the World Cup (in 2014) and the Olympics (in 2016), both events likely to heighten interest in Brazil and things Brazilian – like my books.

And maybe, just maybe, that will be my Made It Moment.

Or maybe not.

Because, by then, fifteen books may well have become the new ten.

Leighton Gage writes the Chief Inspector Mario Silva series, crime novels set in Brazil. His work has been praised by the New York Times, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus and a variety of other publications as well as by numerous online reviewers. You can visit him on the web at


  1. Very interesting. I only have eight more books to go.


    Comment by Arthur Levine — December 27, 2011 @ 9:42 am

  2. I’m not sure what to pick as the “magic number” for an author’s “made it moment,” but I do know that a reader’s magic moment begins with the first page of one your Mario Silva page turners. Congratulations, my friend, on a brilliant fifth!


    Comment by Jeffrey Siger — December 27, 2011 @ 10:13 am

  3. Some of us cant even sell the one.

    Comment by Savvy blue — December 27, 2011 @ 10:22 am

  4. Leighton, this is fantastic! It shows how ‘fate’ controls us all to a degree (the outpouring of ebooks), but also, in your case, how personal talent will prevail. I’ll admit to not having read your work to date, but I promise, this will quickly change! Looking forward!
    And thanks to Jenny for bringing you and others to the world’s attention. Huzzah!

    Comment by Nancy Means Wright — December 27, 2011 @ 10:37 am

  5. I really enjoyed your Moment and I congratulate you on your fifth book! Enjoy your success.

    Comment by Judy — December 27, 2011 @ 11:36 am

  6. Good luck and much success. It’s my pleasure to read your books, one way or another. I think Soho Press must be one of the good guys. Happpy New Year!

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — December 27, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  7. It isn’t just the fifth book that is wonderful. All the books in the series are better than most books in the genre. I was fortunate in that I found the first book, BLOOD OF THE WICKED, while browsing in a bookstore. I became a fan when I finished reading the first paragraph. A review on Jenny’s blog will definitely bring you many new readers.

    Comment by Beth Crowley — December 27, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  8. Leighton, I think you make it every time you finish another of your marvelous books. Every one of them — and I’ve read all but A VINE IN THE BLOOD — is a creative achievement that deserves its own celebration. It’s a great series, my friend, and one to be proud of.

    Comment by Timothy Hallinan — December 27, 2011 @ 2:23 pm

  9. I fear you’re right. When the new $50K is $5K (soon to be $500 and then $50), then we can only expect future fiction to be written by the leisure class who don’t have to translate their time into money in order to get by. (And, therefore, only read leisure class points of view.) Perhaps it’s already happened. There is only so much pie, and the slices are getting smaller.

    Comment by Sara — December 27, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

  10. Just a pitty we have to wait so long for the translation…
    But… we have already THREE books in the shops of Belgium and the Netherlands!
    Keep on writing Leighton, keep on!

    Comment by christiane baetslé — December 27, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

  11. First, I love the cover of Vine in the Blood. It really draws me in. I’m going to look for it as soon as I finish this.
    I like the reasoning for your idea of the ten, but for me it’s two down and eight to go. Jenny, thanks for introducing me to Leighton. Very nice.

    Comment by Ellis Vidler — December 27, 2011 @ 6:30 pm

  12. Yet another slant on the Made It Moment! The variations are always such fun. Thanks for livening up the day. It’s cold in Oregon and Brazil sounds like just the place to go.

    Comment by Elizabeth C. Main — December 27, 2011 @ 8:33 pm

  13. Leighton – excellent post. Yes, publishing seems to be changing daily. Jenny – thanks for bringing us Leighton’s lessons. Fascinating.

    I can only continue to learn.


    Pam DuMond

    Comment by Pamela DuMond — December 28, 2011 @ 2:46 am

  14. Thank you all for your words about my words, both published and here on Jenny’s lovely blog.
    Congratulations, Arthur, on your two.
    Jeff: Obaat! (Okay, I’ll come clean for the rest of you. Jeff and I are blogmates on Murder is Everywhere. And we have this mantra about getting the word out about our books. It began with repeating the old saw “We sell one book at a time.” And then morphed to “one book at a time…one book at a time…one…” These days, we just write Obaat! Please join our cult.
    Savvy Blue: You must have heard the cliche: “There’s a word for authors who won’t give up trying. The word is ‘published’.” All of us have our stories, many of which have been related here, and any of us will tell you that the cliche is true.
    Nancy: I just bought “The Nightmare”, and I’m looking forward to it.
    Lil: Nice to see you here. You’re right. Soho is on the side of the angels. And a Most Happy New Year to You and Yours.
    Beth: You make me blush. (And for those of you who don’t know it, Beth has a terrific blog in MURDER BY TYPE. Google it folks, and check in. She just reviewed Colin Cotterill’s latest.
    Bless you, Tim. Obaat! (Tim Hallinan, folks, is one of my favorite writers and the shining star of MURDER IS EVERYWHERE. In addition to Jeff and Tim, we’ve got (ladies first) Cara Black, Yrsa Sigurdardottir, Dan Waddell and Michael Stanley. We don’t write about our books, or the craft of writing, but rather about subjects of cultural, historical, or social interest, mostly in the countries in which our stories are set. And there’s a new post every single day. (Mostly.)
    Sara: You bet I’m right! When I hold my slice up to the light I can see right through it.
    Christiane: Thank you. You gave me a chance to talk about my Dutch publisher, Karakter. I love them. They sold 10,000 copies of my first book in the Netherlands. And that, folks, is a significant achievement.
    Jenny: And thank you for introducing Ellis to me.
    Ellis: I’ll check out your books. As to covers, the U.S./Canada edition is the work of Elizabeth Elsas Mandel who runs her studio out of Atlanta and does a great deal of work for Soho. You can see more of it on the web.
    Elizabeth: Right you are! We’re just getting into summer. And the beaches are terrific. Go to MURDER IS EVERYWHERE and type “Bahia da Ilha Grande” into the “search this blog” box at the bottom of the home page. It will give you a taste.
    Pam: Congratulations with “Cupcakes, Lies, and Dead Guys”. May it be the first of many!

    Thank you, once again, Jenny, for giving me an opportunity to do a Hallinan.
    (That’s what we at MURDER IS EVERYWHERE call a rant. Follow Tim’s posts and you’ll discover why.)

    Happy New Year, Gang.

    And Obaat!

    Comment by Leighton Gage — December 28, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  15. Congrats on publication in other countries publishing your work. I’m still working on marketing my first, revising/preparing my second for publication and a third going through the final process.

    Comment by JLOakley — December 29, 2011 @ 12:31 am

  16. A very informative blog. There’s definitely a big squeeze on traditional publishing. I hope e-publishing will benefit writers, but I’m not convinced. We’ll have to see the dollars and cents.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — December 29, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  17. Janet(JLOakley): One of the interesting things about publishing abroad (and visiting and talking to the publishers) is to study the different models they have. No time or space to go into it here, but some of them have very different models about how to deal with ebooks — all of which have to do with a more direct contact with their customers on a regular basis.

    Jacqueline: I’m sure JA Konrath, and thousands he’s converted, would not agree. But I do. So few recognize that it’s early days yet, with almost four times as many books (still) being sold in print. And traditional publishers (by which I mean the ones who pay advances and royalties –I don’t like the word “legacy”) still have horses in this race.

    My sympathy at the moment, though, continues to go to the small, independent bookshops, which I dearly love — and too many of which I have seen close (like Jim Huang’s The Mystery Company) or to be passed-on to new management with less love for my genre (like Ed Kauffman’s place in San Mateo).

    Comment by Leighton Gage — December 29, 2011 @ 9:47 am

  18. The publshing world is definitely changing. You either take advantage of it or be left behind. A great interview as usual, Jenny.

    Comment by Lisa Zhang Wharton — December 31, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

  19. There is certainly magic in numbers – 2011 was a fantastic year for me – my second novel released by BeWrite Books, my third accepted for 2012, and eight story collections independently published… my backlist selling again!
    You are so right. Get past five and things start to happen.

    Comment by Rosanne Dingli — January 1, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

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