Long, long before I ascended to the lofty position of Board of Director, I was a high school English teacher, a frightening thought for those of you concerned about the welfare of young people.
One of my students was 1998 grad Lyndsay Farber. The best thing I can say is that I didn’t get in the way of her development. Now living in Manhattan and writing under the name Lyndsay Faye, she continues to draw big attention in the publishing world.
Her 2009 novel Dust and Shadow – a Sherlockian tale that saw Holmes and Watson pitted against Jack the Ripper – received great reviews. Lyndsay’s re-creation of Watson’s narrative voice is virtually undistinguishable from that of Arthur Conan Doyle. If you haven’t read it, put it in on your list.
Lyndsay recently signed a two-book contract that includes her new novel The God of Gotham.
The following story appears in the April 2011 issue of the Columbia River Reader.
Longview native makes splash in the publishing world
Former Longview resident and 1998 R. A. Long graduate Lyndsay Faye (formerly Lyndsay Farber) has signed a two-book deal with Amy Einhorn Books for a novel titled The God of Gotham and a sequel. No publication date has been announced.
Set in 1845 during the establishment of the New York Police Department and the potato famine in Ireland, the novel follows fledgling police officer Timothy Wilde as he searches for serial killer intent on inciting anti-Irish sentiment.
Faye’s agent has also sold the rights to publishers in France, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom.
Claire Baldwin, commissioning editor at Headline Publishing, was enthusiastic about her company’s purchase of UK rights. Baldwin praised the book as “brilliantly conceived and utterly compelling” and called Faye a “hugely talented author.”
Faye, 30, is the author of Dust and Shadow (2009), a Sherlock Holmes novel that received outstanding critical reviews. Prior to writing Dust and Shadow, she had never written a novel, novella or short story and never taken a creative writing class.
“Dust and Shadow was a straight-up Sherlock Holmes pastiche,” Faye said. “I owe Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for teaching me how to dive right into an effective, efficient, and eloquent style. He was absolutely a master at crafting sentences that are simultaneously utilitarian and elegant.”
Faye produced two manuscripts following Dust and Shadow but was unable to sell either. “There are problems with those manuscripts,” she said, “but I’m not throwing them in the Hudson. One day when I have better perspective, I’ll tinker with them again.”
During the time between Dust and Shadow and the sale of God of Gotham, Faye was buoyed by several successes. Her short story “The Case of Colonel Warburton’s Madness” was selected by Otto Penzler and Lee Child for Best American Mystery Stories: 2010.
She also produced several mysteries for Strand Magazine and a six-issue Holmes-versus-Moriarty series for Moonstone Comics.
Dust and Shadow caught the attention of several Broadway performers who have adapted the novel into a musical. “Numbers have been written and outlines plotted,” Faye said. “We’re off and rolling, and so far it’s magical.”
Faye, who lives in Manhattan, was not confident that God of Gotham would sell. She spent six months at the Bryant Park Research Library and the New York Historical Society researching the era, the setting, and the subject. She then spent five months completing the first draft.
Because she writes historical fiction, she focuses on inserting the correct slang, naming the streets properly, and avoiding anachronisms during the initial drafting process. “It’s exhausting,” she said, “but it feels wonderful at the end of a long night when you’re 3,000 words further along.”
Faye’s nocturnal writing habits are a perfect match with her husband Gabriel’s bartending hours. She typically writes between eight p.m. and three a.m. “It sounds mad, but it works for me,” she said. “And I get to stay married.”
Many writers loathe the editing process, but Faye embraces it. She calls herself “a compulsive drafter” and likens editing to a game that consists of streamlining, puzzling out word choice and syntax, and dealing with mechanics.
“Sitting down with a blank document and thinking, ‘I shall make a novel out of this,’ is crazy and terrifying. For me, editing is a joy.”