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Barry Eisler on self-publishing and the politics of liberty

16 November 2012

From Joseph Cotto on The Washington Times Communities:

Eisler tells us about his recent entry into the self-publishing industry, how he defines his political philosophy, whether or not there is a moral message conveyed through his novels, and much more.

. . . .

Cotto: Recently, you ventured into the field of self-publishing. How has this worked out so far?

Eisler: It’s been better even than I’d hoped. I’ve self-published four short works, all of which have done well, along with a new novel (The Detachment) and a new short story (The Khmer Kill) with Amazon.
What a lot of people are still catching on to is that publishing is not an either/or proposition. The choices writers have are not mutually exclusive. I’m a pretty good example of the hybrid approach: I have eight legacy-published novels, four self-published works, an Amazon-published novel, and an Amazon-published short story (we did it as a Kindle Single). The main thing is that, for the first time, we writers have choices about how to publish our books!

. . . .

Cotto: Generally speaking, is there a moral message that you try to convey through your novels?

Eisler: I’d put it this way.

Since the end of the Cold War, there’s been much discussion in the thriller world about whether the thriller, at least the contemporary version, is still a viable form. Despite then Director of Central Intelligence James Woolsey’s admonition that “We have slain a mighty dragon, but now find ourselves in a jungle filled with snakes,” villains seemed scarce during the “peace dividend” years of the Clinton administration. Nine-eleven and the explosion of al Qaeda in the popular consciousness, of course, changed all that, and Islamic fundamentalism provided a new treasure trove of contemporary villains and plotlines.

For thriller writers interested in realism, though, the familiar “Islamic Terrorist Villain” plotline has a serious shortcoming: terrorism, of whatever stripe, poses far less danger to America than does America’s own overreaction to the fear of terrorism. To put it another way, America has a significantly greater capacity for national suicide than any non-state actor has for national murder. If thrillers are built on large-scale danger, therefore, and if a thriller novelist wants to convincingly portray the largest dangers possible, the novelist has to grapple not so much with the possibility of a terror attack, as with the reality of the massive, unaccountable national security state that has metastasized in response to that possibility.

Link to the rest at The Washington Times Communities

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3 Comments to “Barry Eisler on self-publishing and the politics of liberty”

  1. Metastasised (I’m British — Zeds don’t go there ;)Yeah I know we can spell it both ways, but still looks wrong when I type it, not when I read it, just when I type it) is a very good word for that description.

    Tips hat.

  2. My favorite quote: “I think that deep down, the majority of Americans would rather be subjects than citizens, and that they don’t even really know the difference.”

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  3. ” To put it another way, America has a significantly greater capacity for national suicide than any non-state actor has for national murder.”

    We all have the capacity to blow our brains out. That says nothing about our intention or the probability that we will.

    The non-state actor may have less capacity, but does have intention and does everything he can to increase the probability of success.

    I’d suggest the expected value of the harm from the non-state actor exceeds the expected value of the harm we might do to ourselves.

    The novelist doesn’t have to grapple with the security state unless he’s angling for invites to cocktail parties and receptions. He can do whatever he wants.

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