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March 2007

 

Hello, again. Time to update.

First things first: the next Delaware novel, OBSESSION, was published on March 27, 2007 in the US (update to follow on UK pub.) This is one of Alex and Milo’s darkest journeys into the core of obsessive behavior. A whodunit, a whydunit, and something more: a “did it even happen?” I hope those of you kind enough to get hold of it find it a worthwhile investment.

A strange thing happened shortly after New Year: Faye and I finished novels on the exact same day. In Faye’s case, we’re talking about THE BURNT HOUSE, the riveting new Decker/Lazarus novel to be published in August, 2007. For me, it was COMPULSION, the Delaware novel following OBSESSION.

I say strange because it’s the first and only time in over two decades of writing professionally that we’ve even come close to synchrony. Balancing two careers with parenthood has required creative time-management – alternating Faye’s busy periods with my relative down time, and vice versa. But now, with only one (lovely, mature) daughter at home, we find ourselves with greater flexibility.

Still, neither of us set out to achieve simultaneous…final chapters. Now, when I say “finished” I don’t mean it’s time to put the manuscript away and forget about it. Faye and I rewrite constantly but there’s always room for additional red-penciling , plugging in corrections, leaning on the DEL button, etc. And that means initial celebration followed by yet more solitude in our respective offices.

This time, I turned to Faye and said, “Honey, why don’t we do what writers always do in the movies – travel to a gorgeous place, sit in a room with a view, bask in the warmth of a roaring fire and edit. You know, play novelist.”

My darling is that wonderful combination of practical and romantic so a few days later
we were at our place in Santa Fe, gazing at the snow-dusted Sangre de Cristo mountains (southernmost tip of the Rockies) and enjoying a fine Sapphire Martini/Grey Goose Greyhound. And we actually got some work done.

Onward. Jesse’s second novel, TROUBLE, has done smashingly well, garnering rave reviews and making the extended New York Times best-seller list. I’m finding that I get a bigger kick out of his publication than my own.

The big news is that our eldest daughter and her husband are expecting their first child in June. Our friends who are grandparents tell us it’s an unparalleled joy. We’re sure ready. Though I’m having trouble reconciling the young woman I live with and the concept of “grandma.”

Our last surviving dog, the ferocious 6 lb. Papillon, Dreamy, seems intent on setting longevity records as she approaches her 17th birthday. A few years ago she celebrated July 4 by squeezing through a gate slat and attacking a pit-bull. A rather considerate pit-bull who limited himself to chomping Dreamy’s thigh once before sauntering away with offended sensibilities. I spent that Independence Day in the canine E.R. and by the following morning, Dreamy, with a drain in her leg and grokked out on painkillers, immediately resumed intimidating my (late, beloved) 150 lb. Cane Corso, Donna. Perhaps feistiness is good for your health.

Principal photography for WITH STRINGS ATTACHED, the coffee-table book featuring my guitar collection, is nearly complete. Gorgeous work by the esteemed Jon Exley; I’m looking at a December publication.

Here’s a recent photo of Faye and myself at the birthday party of a friend. No red carpet, no celebs, no swag-bags. Just the company of great people whom we’ve known for decades.

Thanks to all of you who’ve taken the time to write. Check out the music of Ray Younkin.

Time to start a new novel. Bye, for now.

Best wishes,


JK




December 14, 2006

 

Dear Readers,



Faye and I have been informed by CourtTV that our episodes of "Murder By The Book," garnered excellent ratings. Taping the show was quite educational; I learned that:



1. T.v. does, indeed, add 10 pounds. Though Faye looked the same. Hmm...guess it's time to hit the gym a little more assiduously.



2. This should dispel any notion that I've ever had plastic surgery (a micro-mini-urban myth that began after some overly-enthusiastic airbrushing of author photos on promotional posters.)



3. I ain't giving up my day job.



Best,

JK



Coming soon: Faye Kellerman’s new website.
2006-07-23

 

Faye’s new website (www.fayekellerman.net) will be up and running soon. Faye wanted to use www.fayekellerman.com but a company in the Netherlands managed to register that domain and refuses to give it up without payment. (Though they won’t name a price – it’s basically a “make us an offer” deal.)



Though Faye has the law on her side, she’s decided to bypass these jokers in order to get her site up and running. Should any of you desire to contact them and let them know what you think of them, feel free to communicate at: info@juccoholdings.com.



BUT OFFICER, I WAS JUST DOING MY HOMEWORK.
2006-06-15

 



Photo by J. Exley




A few months ago, Faye gifted me with what she described as a "performance-driving" course. "No racing, honey, that would be dangerous. You'll learn how to deal with road hazards."



A few days later, a couple of buddies and myself flew up to the Laguna Seca auto-racing track near Carmel, California where we...raced. Sure the first half of the day involved some interesting educational exercises, e.g. driving a pickup truck with bald tires and disabled anti-lock braking system as fast as possible around a sinuous cone course on an asphalt surface covered with soapy water. At a strategic turn, the instructor instructed us to lift our feet off the pedals, then yanked a lever that forced the truck into a massive skid. Now, dude, figure out how to get out of trouble. Another charming experience was learning how to deliberately lock brakes - which evoked a sound somewhat akin to five hundred cats being strangled simultaneously. Peeling out in the Dodge Viper was fun. You get the picture.



By day's end, we were dressed in our Kevlar suits and helmets, multi-belted to the point of near-immobility, and virtually supine in Formula 4 cars that weighed 1100 lb. Gentlemen - and I use the term loosely - start your engines. Within seconds, we were racing around a rather sinuous track featuring at least one six-story drop (the corkscrew) At three figure speeds.
learned a couple of things about myself. To wit:



A. I'm an abject coward.

B. My obsessive-compulsive approach to life adapts nicely to the race-track, where focus is everything.

C. I was able to get past A. and learn some new and interesting skills. So I suppose that translates to personal growth. Or something pschobabbly like that.



Bottom line: Great fun. Zoom zoom. Now if I could only use those skills in L.A. traffic...




2006-27-02

 

I'm often asked who I enjoy reading. Typically, I avoid answering; the list of writers I admire is long but I'm bound to forget someone.



That said, I would like to single out a novelist whose style, power, and grace are beyond astonishing. I'm talking about James Lee Burke, the author of the Dave Robicheaux novels as well as other masterpieces of crime literature. In an age of minimalism (or laziness posing as such) Burke is a maximalist. Boy, is he. His prose is luxuriant, sensual, and evocative, his plots sinuous and complex. A while back I blurbed one of his books and called him "The Faulkner of Crime Fiction," but perhaps I should've said Faulkner was the James Lee Burke of Literary Fiction. If you haven't checked him out, do yourself a favor. Faye agrees.



And by the way, this is an unsolicited paean. JLB and I have never met.



Best,



JK



Reader Survey Results
2006-02-09

 

Thanks to everyone for the fantastic response to the movie poll.  The results are in and BILLY STRAIGHT is the reader's choice for most adaptable novel.  THE BUTCHER'S THEATER and THE MURDER BOOK were close behind.  Best,  JK



My First Market Survey
2006-01-30

 

As I've noted in the Q and A, I get asked quite often why none of my novels have been turned into feature films. The answer is I don't know.


A prominent figure in the film business asked me recently which of my books would make the best movies. I thought about it and realized I wasn't the best judge of that - too close to the stories.


So please give me your opinion. I mean it.



CASTING THE FIRST STONE
2006-01-19

 

William Shatner just sold his kidney stone for $25,000.00. The money will go for charity. Congrats Captain Kirk.


I had a kidney stone just over a year ago. For those who’ve gone through that, I needn’t say anything. For those who haven’t, trust me, it’s pain beyond human comprehension.


After three days of agony, I passed the darn thing and gave it to my doctor for analysis. Later, he joked that he’d considered putting it on e-Bay. We both had a good laugh over that, but now I’m wondering. I don’t delude myself that my little chunk of calcium oxylate could compete, price-wise, with Mr. Shatner’s. But maybe I passed up a golden opportunity – or more accurately, a black, ragged, thorn-edged opportunity – to raise money for a worthy cause.


Oh, well, guess I’ll just have to continue doing it the old-fashioned way: writing checks.



New Message to Readers
2006-01-15

 

Well, it's been eight months since the website's been up. During that time, I've answered thousands of e-mails - and yes, it's me, not an assistant who reads and replies to each and every message. So far.



Ninety nine plus percent of the correspondence has been gracious - readers kind enough to let me know they appreciate what I do. I sit in a quiet room all day and type, so the feedback is more than welcome. Thank you. A lot.



The remaining less-than-one-percent of my mail breaks down to A. Aspiring writers seeking advice about how to get published (if only there was a simple answer) B. About- to-be-published writers seeking jacket blurbs (I'll try to get to your manuscript but it will join many others in a towering pile) C. Fund-raisers asking for free books (I used to send out hundreds a year; it got overwhelming and monopolized my assistant's time, so I stopped.) D. Readers wanting to know why my wife, Faye, doesn't have a website (our son's explanation says it all: she's too busy running the world.) E. Eagle-eyed amateur proofreaders pointing out errors (Yes, it was beer on page 43 and wine on 125; Alex snuck in a brewsky under the table but didn't want me to tell anyone.) and F. the oh-so-rare altruists who take time out of their busy schedules to let me know that they detest what I do. Most notable among those was a charming fellow named Robert Hastie who picked up a discarded paperback of mine in an airport lounge, read two pages, and instructed me to stop writing.



And oh yes, let's not forget the gracious correspondent who informed me that I used to be a good looking guy until I got plastic surgery and started to resemble Joan Rivers. That provided a welcome laugh because I'd been battling the flu and my face was starting to resemble the downtown L.A. freeway interchange. In truth, every wrinkle has been well-earned - I have four kids. Ditto the bald spot and all the other surrenders to gravity. Point of fact: never been nipped or tucked. The last time I went under the knife was July, 1989, to remove a cancerous thyroid gland and a benign tumor on one of my parathyroid glands.



Re: upcoming books: the new Delaware, GONE, will be published in March, shortly after the paperback publication of RAGE.




Best and Happy Reading,



JK



OOPS
2005-08-26

 

Several gracious readers have written in about various errors of fact, nomenclature, etc in RAGE. I thank you all and have been assured that subsequent printings will feature corrections. However, from now on I'm going to stop responding to every correction letter. 


For someone who sees himself as a fairly meticulous guy, being confronted with all these SNAFUs is a more than bit of cognitive dissonance. 


Since my name's on the book, the responsibility falls upon my shoulders. Without trying to weasel out, I will say that the age of computerized typesetting has proven to be less than a blessing and that production values in the book business seem to have fallen. I was reminded of all this when I read in today's paper that 1000 copies of the sci-fi novel ELDER featured missing text in the middle of the book and inclusion of several pages from a different book. 


Same publisher. 


Nuff said. 


Best, 


JK



Writer as Contractor
2005-06-22

 

I was fascinated by an article in today's New York Times about Janet Evanovich.


In it, the best-selling novelist comes across as a brilliant business strategist. One component of her approach has been to contract with another writer to pen a new series that features both Ms. Evanovich's and the for-hire writer's names on the cover.


This is nothing new. James Patterson, a marketing genius, does it. So, I believe, did Alexander Dumas. And the "authors" of the Hardy Boys, Rover Boys, Nancy Drew and Bobbsie Twin series was an entrepreneur named Edward Stratemeyer who maintained a stable of hired scribes.


Writing's a tough business and too often we novelists are left to the mercy of uncreative corporate types. So I certainly understand a writer trying to wrest as much control over his or her career. And, artistic pretensions aside, books are products.


When I was a psychologist with too many referrals to handle, I hired other psychologists - the pick of the post-doc fellows I'd trained at Childrens Hospital of L.A. - and supervised them. But I doubt the approach would work for me as a writer, because creating a novel has always seemed such a personal endeavor. It took over twenty years to agree to collaborate with my wife. And even there, Faye and I put in equal effort.


I'm interested in hearing what you feel about all of this. Please let me know.



GREED
2005-06-02

 

A reader wrote in recently and posed a question I'd never considered: Did I mind that my books could be obtained at thrift-shops and second-hand stores without my receiving a royalty? How did I feel, in general, about book-sharing?


In some European countries, writers have lobbied for royalties on second-hand sales as well as on library loans. In the U.S., this hasn't materialized and, at the risk of sounding self-righteous, thank goodness.


I'm not thrilled when I come across bootlegged copies of my books printed in countries where I haven't cut a deal. But someone spending their hard-earned cash on a Kellerman and opting to pass it along to a friend? More strength to them.


Amassing wealth was never a life-plan of mine. You don't pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and begin working as a medical school professor if you're out to put lots of zeroes in the net worth column. I wrote fiction because I loved doing it and I continue to believe that the only way to write well is to concentrate on writing, not finance. When my first novel became a best-seller I was stunned. Since then, my readers have been beyond kind. I never take that for granted. And scarcely a day goes by when I'm not thankful for the chance to work such a great job with terrific compensation.


I realize that it's easier for me to be generous than it is for a struggling scribe working three jobs to make ends meet. But all of us might do well to consider an adage in Ethics of the Fathers, a Talmudic tractate that deals with moral behavior:


Who is rich? He who is satisfied with what he has.


I'm a happy novelist and there's no need for greed.




2005-06-02

 

Dear Readers,
 


I've just learned that RAGE had the biggest opening week of any of my novels.  Thanks so much to all of you who took the trouble to buy it.  Thanks also for the kind e-mails. 
 


Best,
 


Jonathan



The Koran Flush and other Disasters
2005-05-17

 

Seventeen dead people and a whole lot of social upheaval later, Newsweek has recanted its story about U.S. army interrogators flushing a copy of the Koran down a Guantanamo toilet.



This on the heels of the Dan Rather-National Guard contretemps. And the Jayson Blair affair. And a whole host of journalistic disasters involving shoddy fact-checking, downright plagiarism, and plain old lying.



I wish I could say I'm shocked.



As a UCLA undergrad, from 1966 through '71, I spent as much time at the campus newspaper, The Daily Bruin, as I did studying. Probably more, which could explain my freshman grades?



I started off as an editorial cartoonist and got to try other jobs - reporter, op-ed columnist, critic (no qualifications required other than chronic dyspepsia,) editor. It was great fun and a fabulous experience, though I had no idea I'd end up writing for a living.



That era was politically and sociologically tumultuous - everyone seemed to have STRONG opinions about EVERYTHING. That included Bruin journalists and I soon learned that many of them made no distinction between reporting and editorializing. Being a rather naïve kid, I was shocked. When I tried to broach the topic of journalistic ethics, I was brushed off and derided as "apathetic."



Some of those people went on to work as professional journalists. I'd like to think they've developed some moral fiber along the way, but my own experiences contrasting press accounts with events I've observed first-hand don't make me hopeful.



A veteran reporter once told me, "It's not just what you write. It's what you leave out."



He was an honest fellow, willing to admit that personal bias often got in the way of allegedly objective exposition.



It's the ones who don't admit it that we have to worry about.




 

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