Sunday, August 21, 2011
Where my ideas come from: Pariah
I wrote Pariah in the early Spring of 2006. For years I'd been fascinated by the stories I'd been hearing and reading about Whitey Bulger and had been wanting to write a crime novel based on him, although I hadn't figured out what angle to use. At this point I had finally sold Small Crimes to Serpent's Tail after having the book rejected by every NY publisher, and was still struggling to find a home for Outsourced.
What finally pushed me into writing Pariah were two things: (1) seeing all these South Boston mobster tell-all books come out in early 2006 (2) the Kayva Viswanathan plagiarism scandal with Little Brown. Both of these sent me into a rage-filled writing frenzy, and I ended up writing Pariah as a mix of crime and what I politely like to say is a satire on the publishing industry, although it's really a fuck you to New York publishing. I ended up writing Pariah in 6 weeks, which is the quickest I've written a book, and while this will probably surprise anyone who has read Pariah since it's such a fast read, this is not a thin book--it weighs in at 95,000 words.
For those who've read Pariah, you probably think I also used the OJ Simpson "If I Did It" story. Nope. I had Pariah written well before that story came out. I just didn't think it would be possible for a NY publisher to behave as outrageously as I had my fictional publisher, but once again NY proved me wrong.
While Pariah made a number of end of the year best lists, including The Washington Post's best books of 2009, I'll always be grateful to Serpent's Tail for publishing this, because there's not a single New York publisher who would've ever had the balls to publish this.