Thursday, August 7, 2008

The family business

A manuscript by Peter Leonard just landed on my desk. Does the name sound familiar? No? Kind of? Well, he's the son of Elmore Leonard, and this is his first novel. In recent memory we've seen a number of offspring take up the family business. Felix Francis is co-author with his father Dick of Dead Heat. The doyenne of suspense, Mary Higgins Clark,, collaborates on Christmas themed mysteries with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, who also writes her own mystery series. Joe Hill hit the bestseller lists with his 2007 debut Heart-Shaped Box long before the public learned that he was the son of Stephen King. My colleagues also mention the parent/child teams of Iris Johansen/Roy Johansen; James Lee Burke/Alafair Burke; and Hilma Wolitzer/Meg Wolitzer. Then there's Jesse Kellerman carrying on a double tradition: he's the son of writing spouses Faye and Jonathan. Literary author Ann Patchett is the daughter of Select Editions favorite Jeanne Ray, but in this case it was the mother who followed in her daughter's writing footsteps.

It's not easy writing a novel. And it can't be easy following in the footsteps of writers as popular as these parents. But on the positive side, at least there's someone in the family who, when you tell them you're writing a book, knows exactly what you're going through.


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