RARA-AVIS: Introduction

From: Tim Wohlforth ( tim@timwohlforth.com)
Date: 21 Aug 2004

Since the Rara-Avis list now has a new home, I thought it might be an appropriate time to introduce myself. I have been lurking for a few months using the digest format. I know some of you from the Short Mystery list and from mystery conventions.

I am a writer of noir/hardboiled short stories and novels. Therefore, of course, also an avid reader of same. I have sold 49 short stories, almost all of them on the dark side. They have been published in hardboiled sites like Plots With Guns, Thrilling Detective, Hardluck Stories as well as in several of Michael Bracken's anthologies. I have hardboiled stories presently up at www.orchardpressmysteries.com and www.thrillingdetective.com.

My noir novel NO TIME TO MOURN had just been published by Quiet Storm. Lee Child says, "Like a twelve-bar blues - the comfort of a familiar form jazzed by a fresh key and an exciting new voice." Jerry Healy calls it "a dark gem of a crime novel."

So much for the background and BSPs. I promise not to burden the list incessantly with such material. But this is an intro.

I did want to pass on an interesting conversation I had recently with a top (perhaps THE top) NYC literary agent who handles mysteries. I had spoken with him several years back and he had stated that PI hardboiled novels were almost impossible to sell to publishers. I recently wrote him that currently writers like Connelly, Child, Lehane, Rankin, Crais, and Pelacanos were hitting the best seller lists. He called me on the phbone (they never do that!) to explain that while some established writers in this sub-genre were selling well, publishers still were extremely resistant to publishing new hardboiled writers.

My sense is that he's right. I think it is easier for a new writer to break in with a cozy that St. Martin's might pick up and publish in hardcover for libraries where a predominantly middle-aged female readership hangs out.

What do you all think? If true, it's a problem not only for writers but for fans of the genre who like to read fresh material. Of course small publishers like Quiet Storm help greatly. But their reach into bookstores and even libraries is minuscule.

Tim Wohlforth

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