Paul Doiron is lucky.
Yes, it took him four years to write his first novel, The Poacher’s Son. And he’s wearing himself out traveling the state promoting the book before small gatherings at libraries and other venues. And he still has to go to his regular job as editor of Downeast magazine.
But right out of the novelist’s starter’s gate, he snared a great agent, a 3-book contract with Minotaur, and an initial printing of 30,000 books.
Robyn Jackson, a newspaper features editor with 20 years experience who now writes about writing on her website, www.robynjackson.com, claims that 80 percent of Americans want to write a book.
“Anyone who has ever tried to find an agent or get a manuscript accepted by a publisher knows what a tough business writing is. Even if you do get your book published, there’s no guarantee anyone will buy it,” Jackson says.
She points to statistics about book publishing and reading on self-publishing guru Dan Poynter’s website, www.parapub.com.
Seventy percent of the 120,000 books published each year do not earn back their advance and 70 percent do not make a profit. Even successful fiction books sell only 5,000 copies.
I’m rooting for Maine native Doiron to do a whole lot better. He should. The Poacher’s Son is an exceptional read, with great characters and a terrific plot. It’s a page-turner, that’s for sure.
My favorite books are mystery and crime novels, so I know what I’m telling you. Most of my favorite writers are anchored in the past, including John McDonald and Ed McBain. I do enjoy some of today’s novelists, particularly Michael Connelly, Nelson DeMille, and C.J. Box. The latter two praise Doiron’s book on the back cover, substantial endorsements from guys who have made it big time in the tough world of fiction.
There’s been a transition in the mystery fiction world from the day when plot was king, to today when characterization is the most important ingredient in a successful mystery novel.
Doiron has one foot in each camp. His primary character, a Maine game warden, is carefully and accurately drawn. As an observer of the Maine Warden Service for the past 18 years in my capacity as executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine, I find Doiron’s presentation of his game warden, Mike Bowditch, spot on, from Bowditch’s frightening encounter with a wounded bear to the complaint against him from a disgruntled boater who received a citation for not having a life jacket on his kid.
I purchased the book because the main character was a game warden. I read it quickly, over a 48-hour period, because the plot grabbed me from the opening chapter.
Here’s how its touted on the book jacket: “Game warden Mike Bowditch returns home one evening to find an alarming voice from the past on his answering machine: it belongs to his father, Jack, a hard-drinking womanizer who makes his living poaching illegal game. An even more frightening call comes the next morning from the police: They are searching for the man who killed a beloved local cop the night before – and his father is their prime suspect.”
Although Doiron agrees he’s lucky to get his first novel published, you’ll be the lucky one if you buy it and read it. - george
Game Warden John McDonald’s Comments on The Poachers Son.
Question: Is Paul Doiron’s portrayal of the game warden’s job accurate?
McDonald: Yes, it is a good snapshot of what we do.
Question: Did the episodes when the warden encountered specific situations seem realistic (angry bear, angry boater):
McDonald: The situations were realistic and demonstrated the intensity quite well. Being an off-road law enforcement agency, the confrontational encounters we sometimes have with people in violation of law can be precarious in that we have no backup for miles. A calm yet firm nature coupled with good personal relations skills is of utmost importance. The warden portrayed in the novel seemed to have those qualities.
Question: What did you like about the book?
McDonald: The book had a good level of intensity and mystery, especially in the middle and end of the story.
Question: What didn’t you like abut the book?
McDonald: I found there to be nothing negative about the novel.
Question: Do you think the book is a positive thing for the Maine Warden Service?
McDonald: I believe any good story that sheds light on the men and women of the Warden Service is a good thing. Educating the public on who we are and what we do for the people and natural resources of Maine is an important part of our mission and we both thank and congratulate Paul Doiron on such a fine novel.