Observe the Man Behind the Curtain

By Neal Comment


If your bosses are away at the Javits tomorrow, setting up for the BookExpo, and you’re looking for something to do, or if you’re a thriller writer who’s said to yourself, “Hey, I should get me one of those deals to do a James Patterson book, you might want to take a look at the long, long essay Errol Lincoln Uys has put up on his website about co-creating The Covenant with James Michener. “I am no good at plotting,” admitted Michener (right), but Uys “showed such a mastery of and predilection for plotting that again and again he came up with dazzling ideas which immediately attracted my attention.” Uys describes how he wound up actually writing several passages in the final, published version of the novel, and how Michener subtly bullied him into not making hay of that fact—though he was also highly supportive as Uys went on to write his own epic, Brazil, which the NY Times described as “very much in the Michener style, with all the strengths and shortcomings that implies.” (Originally published by Simon & Schuster, the novel was reissued a few years back by Silver Springs Books.)

As I say, it’s long, and spread out over several web pages, but for any professional writer who’s thought about taking on the role of (un)credited co-author, Uys’s experience can be highly informative.