by Nathan Walpow
Details at the end of this post on how to win a copy of Push Comes to Shove, along with a link to purchase it.
My last novel came out in 2005. Over the following decade or so, my fiction output was limited to a few short stories. When I dove back in a few years ago, much had changed. Electronic reading devices were established. Self-publishing, rather than being a stigma for those who couldn’t get traditionally published, was respectable. Writers with established reputations were doing it, some of them making tons of money and none of them becoming pariahs among their peers.
Once I accepted the idea of throwing my stuff up on Amazon, my first thought was to put out a collection of my short stories, but I couldn’t decide what should be included. My reputation, such as it is, was made in the mystery world, but when I started writing, I worked in science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Could the twain meet? Sometimes I’d think one book with both crime and speculative fiction would be best. Sometimes I’d decide to put out two shorter books, one for the mystery fans and one for the SF people. Back and forth I went!
The collection sat on the back burner while I put out my last two Joe Portugal books in electronic form (the original publisher had the rights to the first two), as well as three e-novellas, two about urban vigilante Logan, the other an expansion of my story “Push Comes to Shove,” a professional wrestling-themed tale that got selected for the Best American Mystery Stories series back in 2001.
In the fall of 2015 I finally got off my butt with the collection. First thing was to ask Lee Child to write a foreword for it. Lee’s always been very supportive of my writing and I figured his name on the cover could sell a few copies. Before long he wrote back with a very fine foreword, filled with phrases ripe for excerpting. Like “the best writer you never heard of.”
I was committed. I had to put the book together.
Next step was to finally nail down the contents. When I looked at all my output, I was much more pleased with my crime stories than the SF ones. Which made sense: in general, I was a more experienced and frankly better writer when I wrote them. So it was to be a crime collection after all.
I chose five stories: four straight mystery/thrillers and one hybrid science fiction/crime yarn. Which brought up a problem: the five stories totalled only 20,000 words or so. I wanted to price the collection at $2.99 and five stories didn’t seem like enough.
I went back through the early stuff. I liberated a very short story told from the Devil’s point of view. It had a great twist and I figured Satan’s presence made it “noir” enough to fit in! Then I added the only speculative story I’d written since those early days, a contemporary fantasy about a guy who gets romantic advice from a stork, which I’d written a few years ago for an anthology edited by the guy who bought the very first story I sold back in the early ’90s.
This brought me up to 25,000 words, and though I’d been fine-pricing my novellas at $2.99, this collection still called out for more length. I got a brainstorm. I’d add in the novella expansion of my wrestling story. Sure, I might lose a few sales of the novella by itself, but its addition not only brought the word count up to 50,000, but somehow made everything a nice tidy package.
I started with the original version of “Push Comes to Shove.” Then the other six stories, plus how-it-came-to-be notes for all seven. Next came the wrestling novella (entitled simply Push) and notes on its history. I’d been puzzling over a title, but suddenly one was obvious: the collection was also to be called Push Comes to Shove.
I contacted Jeroen ten Berge, who’d done the wonderful covers for the two Logan novellas and he came through with this one too. With the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books coming up and me lacking anything recent to peddle, I decided some Createspace paperbacks were in order. I spent a couple of weeks making sure everything was formatted correctly and finally, on February 18, the book came out.
Was it worthwhile? Sales started off promising. My name’s out there again. I’ll have something besides ten-year-old books to show off at signings. I’m satisfied.
To enter to win a copy of Push Comes to Shove, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “push,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen March 12, 2016. U.S. residents only. If entering via email please include your mailing address, and if via comment please include your email address.
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