Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Faithless Elector celebrates one year!

March 14, 2017
The interaction and dialogue with readers has been the greatest reward.
One year ago today I received the final proof copy of Faithless Elector from the printer.  Thank you to everyone who has supported and taken part in a wonderful journey!  It's one I hope will continue with Dark Network (coming soon!), and the third book in the series, working title "Consent of the Governed."

Somehow it seems longer than only a year ago. In early March of 2016, I had already spent the past four months revising and re-revising a years-old draft I had put away because I couldn't interest any agents or publishers.  That also seems to be changing.

Since its publication on March 23, 2016, Faithless Elector has found a readership, for which I am deeply grateful.  I've had correspondence from all over the country, most of it very positive (some of it alarmingly CAPS LOCK hostile, but those folks were never actual readers). I've had two readers who identified themselves as real Electors. One, himself a professor, felt events in the book were a little too close for his comfort: one night, he, like the fictional Professor Calder, was working late at the university.  The sudden sounds of slamming doors and footsteps echoing through his building, he told me, unnerved him.  He decided to finish his work at home that night.

I have heard from other readers that the book has ruined parking garages for them.  They can no longer view them as just an ugly part of the landscape, but as fraught with danger.  Graduate students and academics have told me they enjoyed the portrayals of Calder and Matthew and university life. I've loved meeting readers--in person and online--and I've had wonderful questions at the readings and book talks I've done, as well as passionate appeals to bring back certain relatively minor characters. (I'll do what I can!)

Though I was setting the story in the very near future--the 2016 presidential election--March was too early to say who the candidates would be.  I decided to use fictional candidates on purpose.  While I hoped the book's topicality in the run-up to the election would help it stand apart from the thousand other political thrillers out there, I didn't want it to be a broadside--about one party or one candidate trying to steal the 2016 election.  I wanted to make sure readers wouldn't automatically view the events through the divisive prism of the primaries.  The story would suffer under the weight of pre-existing views.  I wanted the book to express a broader dilemma.  Again, I'm gratified that readers have seemed to embrace this part of the book.  The story appeals to conservatives and liberals alike.

The key to Faithless Elector was that in a close Electoral College race, it would not take much to tip the scales. A disciplined, well-funded group could undermine and hijack the parties--and the will of the people.  It was a danger then, and the danger remains latent now.  Moreover, the novel's plot hinges on the actions of ordinary citizens thrust into extraordinary circumstances, forced to act, forced to risk everything for their belief in democracy.

Amazon reviews and independent reviewers have picked up the broader themes:

  • Book Viral Review: "Taut and well-paced, but for readers reading between the lines it also works on a moral level."
  • "The pleasure of Faithless Elector lies not just its smooth evocative prose, but in the author's justified confidence that good writing can make chases through recognizable locales sufficiently exciting without a Navy SEAL or a terrorist plot." Review, Plattsburgh Press-Republican
  • Publishers Weekly Review: "A fast-moving topical thriller...Surprising twists...add up to a highly suspenseful read."

From October 2015 to July 2016, my wife and I were living in Oxford, UK, where she was a visiting fellow at the university.  I had no work permit and decided to use my time to "make a good fist of it," as the English say, finish the book and get it out there.  I worked with an extraordinary editor suggested by a friend, who pushed, challenged, corrected and cajoled, and he helped make the book much better than it had been. (Thank you, Jim!)

I have enjoyed the work of writing every day far more than I could have anticipated.  Even when the work does not go well I realize that whatever problems I'm having, where I am today is exactly where I've wanted to be since I was 15 or 16 years old.  In fact, today is better than what I hoped for. Typing away in my room, I couldn't have guessed at what it would be like to have readers respond.  The interaction and dialogue with readers has been the greatest reward.

James McCrone
Philadelphia, PA

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