Thursday, July 4, 2013


My South American-sited action-adventure thriller Orinoco suffered a strange fate at the hands of its original publisher, Pocket Books. Despite rave endorsements from three best-selling writers—Len Deighton, Thomas Keneally (author of Schindler’s List) and Nelson DeMille—the publisher decided to change my title to one that I found vague and actually meaningless.

I was informed, but not consulted. I felt like a parent watching helplessly through the hospital nursery window as the nametag is switched on the bassinet bearing his child. Orinoco was thus born into the book world as Pursuit Into Darkness. With this eminently forgettable dust jacket over its face, the novel was barely promoted, scarcely noticed and soon forgotten.

The brilliant Australian novelist Thomas Keneally captured my feelings perfectly when he called me from “Oz” just about that time with his solicited endorsement. He had read an early proof of Orinoco and was properly disdainful when I told him of the last-minute name change. He dictated his blurb thus:
“What a ripping read. Orinoco--or by whatever meaningless name it is now being called--is a rapidly moving, thoroughly satisfying opus, good for a winter’s night or a summer’s day.”
Flash forward a bunch of years to the present era of self- and independent publishing. In my case (and in the case of many another published writer), it affords the glorious opportunity to republish out-of-print titles—and do it right this second time around.

This time no committee, no finger-to-the-wind marketing manager, gets to rename my opus. This is why I am particularly excited about the imminent independent publication of PURSUIT INTO DARKNESS ORINOCO. In a couple weeks, it will be available under its rightful and original name, and be judged by its proper merits.

You see, the title was the book at its inception. I began not with an idea, but just that rhythmically resonant name. Other tributaries of the story flowed into that riverine trunk. As I mentioned in a previous post, among my early inspirations was Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, though I skipped the dinosaurs that Doyle’s imagination deposited atop Auyán-Tepui, the giant sandstone mesa from whose prow Angel Falls plunges endlessly down into the surrounding Venezuelan jungle.

Now I've just reread my manuscript for this South American thriller and discover that it's good! In fact, I have to agree with Nelson DeMille's generous plaudit: "A well-written and obviously well-researched novel; classical escape reading." (Thank you again, Mr. DeMille!)

I can hardly wait until Orinoco is reborn and rechristened on Kindle (and in Lulu print-on-demand). In fact, I'm going to be giving copies away, in lieu of cigars, as soon as they emerge from their digital womb.

Stay tuned for the official birth announcement!

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