Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Company of Strangers

by Robert Pobi 
While we were trying to sell my first novel, my agent talked me into attending a writers conference. Anyone who has spent thirty seconds with me will tell you that I’m not much of a people person. Or team player. Or whatever they’re calling us hermits these days. I’ve just never been in sync with the rest of the folks at the methadone dispenser, as much as I try. But she insisted. Something about my having to get out more. Make new friends. Influence people. You know – same old, same old.   

I’m not going to say that I was dreading it, but the people in my old profession would eat their own children if the sushi joint on the corner closed early, so it’s safe to say I was not expecting much. But I went. And stayed. And was knocked out by the individuals I met.

When writers get together a remarkable thing happens – instead of the drunken egomaniacs one expects, they soften, let their guard down, and become very friendly. I was not prepared for the kindness I found in the writing community. There’s a real sense of solidarity, and a real effort to make new writers feel welcome. I have had some great conversations and made some new friends. Not an easy thing at any point in life. 

But along with the friendships and conversations and booze – did I forget to mention the booze? – there are also a lot of offers to help. You need a forensic dentist? Here’s my card. Looking for a Homicide detective? I was an FBI agent for twenty-one years, will that do? You need to know how fast a Zamboni can go on hot sand? Let me make a call. Writers want to help other writers. It just seems to be something that happens. And it took a while to get used to.  

The rules of being a successful writer are pretty complicated to explain, mostly because there aren’t any. This only sinks in when you meet other writers and find out that each one has his or her own way of doing things and it’s not the same as yours. Staring at the cursor for fifteen hours straight can be very isolating; it takes a special kind of person. But I’ve found others out there. Lots of them. Willing to help. 

Which is pretty suspicious when I think about it.     

Robert Pobi is the international bestselling author of Bloodman, a novel that earned a spot on the 2012 Summer Reading List for O, The Oprah Magazine. It was published in more than a dozen countries and became an international bestseller, garnering comparisons to “Thomas Harris in his prime” by Sarah Weinman of the National Post. Pobi does most of his writing at an isolated cabin in the mountains. The rest of the time he is busy getting speeding tickets. Visit him at:
A stifling heat wave rolls into New York City, amplifying the already critical level of tension in the fragile concrete ecosystem. The air tastes of electricity – the negative charge of bad things to come – but everyone hopes it’s just the temperature. Then, on the morning Homicide Detective Alexandra ‘Hemi’ Hemingway finds out she is pregnant, a twisted serial killer makes his debut. And the heat goes up.   

Not for the faint of heart - American Woman is a relentless ride that takes you through the fractured world of a nascent killer.  And you will never feel safe again.   

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