Thursday, July 13, 2006


From James

I learned something very important on my family road trip last week (see “Don’t Make Me Stop this Car”, 7/6/06). My ten-year-old daughter is biologically incapable of reading in a moving vehicle. You can probably imagine how I learned this. It wasn’t pretty.

Both my wife and I were surprised by this. We figured our children would have very good genes. Tiffany can read anything in the car—even the unbearable first drafts of my novels. I would never have earned a law degree had I not been able to read casebooks while crammed into the back of a Toyota Celica on a Sunday night after a weekend at Crescent Beach. In the summer of 2001, I even wrote a good chunk of Beyond Suspicion, my sixth novel, while cruising home from Martha’s Vineyard in our SUV.

But, alas, even Tiffany finally realized that she is to blame. True, Tiffany can read just fine while cruising down the expressway. The problem is that she can’t DRIVE while cruising down the expressway. She says it gives her Vertigo.

Which reminds me: I do a decent Jimmy Stewart imitation. “My mouth's bleeding, Bert! My mouth's bleed—” See? Pretty good, huh?

Anyway, back to Vertigo. If my wife can’t drive on expressways, you’re probably wondering how I wrote Beyond Suspicion while cruising back and forth from Martha’s Vineyard in an SUV. At the time, my daughter was 5. My son was 3. Hmmmm. Sounds like a riddle to me. Any takers?

And while we’re on the subject of riddles, can anyone explain to me how Brazil did not make it to the finals of World Cup Soccer? I really got into the World Cup this year. I was in Berlin on June 9 presenting a new book to international book clubs, and June 9 was also the first day of World Cup. My wife and I were having dinner atop the Reichstag, looking down on several hundred thousand Germans who were going nuts and watching their team on a huge television screen near Brandenburg gate. It was hard not to get caught up in the excitement. And in case you haven’t noticed, my name ends in a vowel. So I was pleased as punch (or should I say “pleased as head butt”) that Italy won it all. Yippee! But poor Brazil. They were ranked #1 in the world going into the tournament, and everyone thought they would win—at least everyone in Miami, that is. They didn’t.

Nonetheless, my hat goes off to the Brazilians, and this has nothing to do with soccer. It actually relates to writing, which, after all, is what this blog is supposed to be about. Last week I received the Brazilian cover for the Portuguese translation of my novel, Last to Die. I have seen many, many covers for my foreign translations. Some of them are just dreadful. This one from Brazil is truly the most artistically beautiful cover of any of my novels, foreign or U.S. edition. I’m not kidding. This thing was sexy, edgy, mysterious, eye-popping. It was so good, in fact, that I wanted my U.S. publisher to buy the whole package and use it as the cover for the U.S. edition of Lying with Strangers, which HarperCollins will release in June 2007. My agent, however, had some question as to whether it would appeal to women. So I asked my wife what she thought. Guess what?

She got vertigo. Passed out right on the spot. But on her way down, she said, “No freakin’ way are you using that cover!”

My apologies, Brazil. You lose again.


  1. Let's see...your daughter steered while your son sat on the gas pedal?

  2. Can you post a copy of the "Last to Die" cover from Brazil? Would love to see it.

    I always liked the covers on my Jake Lassiter series published in France. One was a watercolor, very artistic. They were published by Editions de Seuil under the name Seuill Policiers. (Everything sounds better in French).

    So let's see your cover from Brazil!

  3. Ah, Paul, I knew you would ask. You ARE Jake! I don'tknow how to post an image inside a blog comment, so I'll edit the original post.

    Patty: Great guess! How did you know?

  4. How did I know? Heh, heh. I'll never tell.

    I want to see the cover, too!!!!!!

  5. I feel for your daughter. Except I outgrew it.

    As for touch typed your novel while looking outside the car and giving your wife instructions while she drove with her eyes closed?