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  • Writer's pictureClarke Wallace


It takes your breath away. At least it does mine. I’m staring at my new novel, HARM”S WAY leaning against the laptop. It’s an international thriller. How things change if you hang in loooong enough.

Indulge me here. It’s such a wonderful moment.

What stands out on the cover is the US Capitol lit up with the building reflected in the water. The publisher’s Bobbie Collins asked me what I thought might make a cover. After all that’s the first thing that sells a book. An eye catcher.

It must also reflect what the story is about. I wasn’t much help.

An initial cover arrived. It lacked a tagline. Could I suggest a few? I dug deep to send back nine potential ones.

None compared with what a New York copy editor had come up with for an earlier book, THE HERCULES TRUST. He’d written a masterpiece: ‘FOR STOLEN ART WORTH MILLIONS, THE ASKING PRICE WAS MURDER. You can’t beat that.

Others chose the tagline you’ll see on the HARM’S WAY cover. ‘DEATH’S A STEP AWAY WHEN TAKING ON THE IMPOSSIBLE.’ That works for me.

I’m looking at the new book now. My eighth. It was turned down by a handful of Canadian publishers. One wrote back – some never reply – that they decided not to handle it, though it was a good read. (Ugh?) He or she added, it surely would be picked up and when that happened, would I send them a copy? Hmmm.

A logline and one-page synopsis went off to the Beacon Publishing Group in the US. Then they asked me to send the manuscript. A week later it was accepted. A contract would follow.

Those sudden, unexpected moments don’t happen often. That’s not quite true. My agent had been handling a screenplay THE MORNING MAN, about a guy who breaks out of prison and gives himself a year to go straight.

No takers. Finally, and I mean finally, my agent sent me a note saying a Montréal producer had picked it up. It became a movie, a theatrical release.

I have a couple of screenplays out there: one of an urban kid who learns how rough-and-tumble Mother Nature can be when struggling to survive in her hostile wilderness. Wild!

What makes it work for me, three of the four main characters are Indigenous. And they’d light any screen.

Author’s comment: Want a good reason not to give up, writers included? Margaret Atwood, the author, pitched her first book to fifty publishers, mostly Canadian. They turned her down. Fifty. Imagine it. Margaret Atwood! An English publisher saw the manuscript and signed her up. Whatever you strive for, whether you’re a writer or not, never give up. D’you hear me?

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