Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pg. 69: "Blind Submission"

Debra Ginsberg is the author of the memoirs Waiting: The True Confessions of a Waitress, Raising Blaze: Bringing Up an Extraordinary Son in an Ordinary World, and About My Sisters.

Blind Submission, her first novel, was published last month.

I asked Debra to put her book to the "page 69 test," and here is what she reported:
Part of the challenge in writing Blind Submission was to highlight the shades of gray between the poles of black and white, good and evil, fiction and reality. My protagonist, Angel Robinson, is the assistant to Lucy Fiamma, one of the country’s most successful literary agents. Lucy hasn’t achieved her success by being nice – or even decent – to her employees and her reputation as a dragon-lady is well deserved. Yet Lucy is far from one-dimensionally wicked. She is also very, very good at what she does. And part of what she does is to create that most elusive and desired of literary qualities: buzz. Sometimes this involves blurring the aforementioned lines between fiction and reality in some very creative ways. Sometimes it involves an innate entrepreneurial spirit and keen business sense. And sometimes it involves all of the above. Lucy’s ability to manufacture desire and to cajole editors into spending large sums of money on her projects is what makes her agency the hottest ticket in town, even while her personality often leaves them cold.

Page 69 describes how Lucy prepares to auction a manuscript by a sexy (she hopes) Italian author whose work has arrived over the transom, been given Angel’s stamp of approval, and is now generating quite a bit of heat among publishers who are always hungry for the next big thing. The following scene illustrates how well Lucy knows her territory and how expertly she plays her game.

From p. 69:

Lucy gave the ten editors less than a week to prepare for the auction (“Have to keep it fresh,” she said, “so that they stay ravenous”), during which time she debated endlessly whether of not to throw a few more into the mix. “I’m just wondering if Susie Parker might not just love this book,” she’d say. And, “You know, we haven’t tried Nadia Fiori. She is Italian.” Ultimately, she hooked three additional editors, with more frantic overnight deliveries, to make a baker’s dozen. I was sure that had she wanted to, Lucy could have involved half the editors in New York, along with many heads of houses. Gordon Hart was among those heads, and he called a few times during the course of that next week, never once actually speaking to Lucy on the phone, but managing to communicate with her through me.

“Are you still working there?” he asked every time I answered his call. “This has got to be a new record for her.” That was another thing about Gordon Hart: He never referred to her as Lucy; it was always she or her.
Many thanks to Debra for the input.

Click here or here to read an excerpt from Blind Submission.

Among the praise for the novel:
“Wicked fun and suspense from a talented new writer with an original, clever voice.”
--Lisa Scottoline

“If you’ve ever considered a career in publishing, read Blind Submission, a ‘boss from hell’ story that’s as funny as it is frightening. It will make you love your job.”
--Harley Jane Kozak, author of Dating Dead Men and Dating Is Murder

“A wonderful read from start to finish. Ginsberg’s writing is clever and seductive as she spins this tale of psychological peril and illumination.”
--T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Fallen

“Ginsberg brings a fresh voice to her offbeat fiction debut, a novel about novels and the novelists who write them. It’s a taut, fun, complex tale that will keep you guessing till the last page.”
--Patricia Gaffney, author of The Saving Graces
To read reviews from the Washington Post, USA Today, the Boston Globe, and other major newspaper and book reviews, click here.

Click here, here, and here to listen to Debra's commentaries on National Public Radio.

In Salon, Debra explained why never to take a waitressing job that requires you to wear a sari, in "Slinging Curry."

Want to win a consultation with a top New York literary agent? Then click here.

Previous "page 69 tests:"
Sarah Katherine Lewis, Indecent
Peter Orner, The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo
William Easterly, The White Man's Burden
Danielle Trussoni, Falling Through the Earth
Andrew Blechman, Pigeons
Anne Perry, A Christmas Secret
Elaine Showalter, Faculty Towers
Kat Richardson, Greywalker
Michael Bess, Choices Under Fire
Masha Hamilton, The Camel Bookmobile
Alex Beam, Gracefully Insane
Nicholas Lemann, Redemption
Jason Sokol, There Goes My Everything
Wendy Steiner, Venus in Exile
Josh Chafetz, Democracy’s Privileged Few
Anne Frasier, Pale Immortal
Michael Lewis, The Blind Side
David A. Bell, The First Total War
Brett Ellen Block, The Lightning Rule
Rosanna Hertz, Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice
Jason Starr, Lights Out
Robert Vitalis, America's Kingdom
Stephen Elliott, My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up
Colin McGinn, The Power of Movies
Sean Chercover, Big City, Bad Blood
Sigrid Nunez, The Last of Her Kind
Stanley Fish, How Milton Works
James Longenbach, The Resistance to Poetry
Margaret Lowrie Robertson, Season of Betrayal
Sy Montgomery, The Good Good Pig
Allison Burnett, The House Beautiful
Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, A History
Ed Lynskey, The Dirt-Brown Derby
Cindy Dyson, And She Was
Simon Blackburn, Truth
Brian Freeman, Stripped
Alyson M. Cole, The Cult of True Victimhood
Jeff Biggers, In the Sierra Madre
Jeff Broadwater, George Mason, Forgotten Founder
Alicia Steimberg, Andrea Labinger (trans.), The Rainforest
Michael Grunwald, The Swamp
Darrin McMahon, Happiness: A History
Leo Braudy, From Chivalry to Terrorism
David Nasaw, Andrew Carnegie
Leah Hager Cohen, Train Go Sorry
Chris Grabenstein, Slay Ride
David Helvarg, Blue Frontier
Marina Warner, Phantasmagoria
Bill Crider, A Mammoth Murder
Robert W. Bennett, Taming the Electoral College
Nicholas Stern et al, Stern Review Report
Kerry Emanuel, Divine Wind
Adam Langer, The Washington Story
Michael Scott Moore, Too Much of Nothing
Frank Schaeffer, Baby Jack
Wyn Cooper, Postcards from the Interior
Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Maureen Ogle, Ambitious Brew
Cass Sunstein, Infotopia
Paul W. Kahn, Out of Eden
Paul Lewis, Cracking Up
Pagan Kennedy, Confessions of a Memory Eater
David Greenberg, Nixon's Shadow
Duane Swierczynski, The Wheelman
George Levine, Darwin Loves You
John Barlow, Intoxicated
Alicia Steimberg, The Rainforest
Alan Wolfe, Does American Democracy Still Work?
John Dickerson, On Her Trail
Marcus Sakey, The Blade Itself
Randy Boyagoda, Governor of the Northern Province
John Gittings, The Changing Face of China
Rachel Kadish, Tolstoy Lied
Eric Rauchway, Blessed Among Nations
Tim Brookes, Guitar and other books
Ruth Padel, Tigers in Red Weather
William Haywood Henderson, Augusta Locke
Jed Horne, Breach of Faith
Robert Greer, The Fourth Perspective
David Plotz, The Genius Factory
Michael Allen Dymmoch, White Tiger
Patrick Thaddeus Jackson, Civilizing the Enemy
Tom Lutz, Doing Nothing
Libby Fischer Hellmann, A Shot To Die For
Nelson Algren, The Man With the Golden Arm
Bob Harris, Prisoner of Trebekistan
Elaine Flinn, Deadly Collection
Louise Welsh, The Bullet Trick
Gregg Hurwitz, Last Shot
Martha Powers, Death Angel
N.M. Kelby, Whale Season
Mario Acevedo, The Nymphos of Rocky Flats
Dominic Smith, The Mercury Visions of Louis Daguerre
Simon Blackburn, Lust
Linda L. Richards, Calculated Loss
Kevin Guilfoile, Cast of Shadows
Ronlyn Domingue, The Mercy of Thin Air
Shari Caudron, Who Are You People?
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
John Sutherland, How to Read a Novel
Steven Miles, Oath Betrayed
Alan Brown, Audrey Hepburn's Neck
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale

--Marshal Zeringue