Today André K Baby will be talking to us about his debut thriller, La Danse des Éveques. His is the first of three guests on this blog. Next week Cathryn Grant will be speaking, followed by Teresa Frohock.
André K. Baby is a Montreal-born lawyer and writer. After early beginnings in criminal law as a Crown prosecutor, he switched to corporate and commercial law, eventually becoming General Counsel to a Swiss multinational. He has mined the wealth of his varied legal background to forge the intrigues and characters of his first thriller, “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie.” The French version, “La Danse Des Éveques,” was published and launched in the fall of 2010 at the Salon du Livre de Montréal by Les Éditions Marcel Broquet. André is currently writing the stand alone sequel, “The Jewish Pope”. When not writing, André enjoys reading, sailing and playing classical piano. He and his wife Louise live in Pointe Claire, Quebec.
JN: You wrote your thriller, La Danse des Éveques originally in English. Why?
AKB: Actually, it’s easier for me to write the thriller genre in English. I think it’s due to the fact that my imagination has been fueled by the likes of Graham Greene, Lawrence Durrell, Sidney Sheldon, Ken Follett and others. Although the French have great mystery and police procedural writers such as Simenon and Levy, there are less really good French authors in the thriller genre.
JN: Were you concerned that the translation might not be as good as the original?
AKB: I must admit at first I was a bit apprehensive. But when I read the end result I was really excited. With the help of Hélene Larue’s excellent editing, I feel La Danse Des Éveques is as good as if not better than the original.
JN: How did Dance come to be translated and published in French if it was originally written in English?
AKB: Preparation and Perseverance. When I sent out queries to agents for my English manuscript and my inevitable pile of rejections grew to unflattering heights, I became extremely frustrated. Self-confidence eventually reached an all time low. Did I really need this sort of existence? Was I becoming masochistic? Was this what writing was all about? A lot of pain and no gain? After a period of serious introspection, I decided to keep writing for myself, for the fun of seeing the end product improve as I rewrote, and rewrote and rewrote some more. Then one day at a party, I met a Quebec French publisher, who was kind enough to take a look at my English manuscript and to suggest changes. I incorporated his recommendations and kept sending out queries to agents. Still no takers. About three months later, that French publisher phoned me one fine morning and said that he wanted to publish my novel. After getting off the floor and back into my chair, I heard him continue: “There’s one condition. You’ll have to get it translated it into French.” That’s how “La Danse des Éveques” eventually got published before the original,” Dead Bishops Don’t Lie”.
JN: Three months after the launch of La Danse des Éveques, how are sales going?
AKB: Better than expected. The first print run is almost sold out. Since publishers (including mine) don’t like to spend money on advertising, we have to rely mainly on word-of-mouth. I’m amazed at how effective that is.
JN: How is your publisher marketing?
AKB: I’ve found it to be a sensitive issue with the publisher. The margins in the publishing business are so small that publishers are unwilling to spend on advertising. Yet it’s a catch 22: don’t advertise and the author remains unknown, and sales don’t grow. Yet so far, I’ve been lucky.
JN: What are you working on now?
AKB: I’m currently reworking the ending of my second thriller, “The Jewish Pope”. After that, I’ll be integrating my line editor’s (my wife Louise’s) many comments.
JN: When and why did you begin writing?
AKB: I began writing a few sailing related articles many years ago, for local publications. I have also written a few law related articles during my career as a corporate lawyer. I began thinking about writing “The Novel” about five years ago. Coincidentally, I broke my leg around that time, so I remained more or less immobilized for three months. I found that lying on the living room couch was a good position to enhance the creative process. I still use it now.
JN: Any advice for writers?
AKB: Having only one published book to my credit, I am loath to give advice to others. More seasoned authors than I have written about the many, sometimes daunting issues that face writers on the road to publication. I found that these authors each had variations on a main theme, which included however two recurring ideas: preparation and perseverance. When those two qualities were present, writers usually got published. I think each writer must find his or her way. My path was arduous, a bit circuitous but in the end, the result was and continues to be extremely fulfilling. Plus I’ve met some great people along the way and made new friends.
JN: Are there plans to publish La Danse Des Éveques in English?
AKB: I’ve recently received good news from my publisher, Marcel Broquet: a Canadian Anglophone publisher has requested the English version “Dead Bishops Don’t Lie” and will be taking a look at it. Also, I ‘m awaiting news from an agent whom Broquet met in Ottawa recently.
Thank you, André, for sharing your experience with us. We wish you continued success, and look forward to Dead Bishop’s Don’t Lie, and The Jewish Pope.
Visit André’s website to learn more about him and his novel, La Danse des Éveques.
André would love to answer any comments or questions you have for him.