A few weeks ago the London Book Festival announced the names of its winners. “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, the novel, which is probably my most recognized work, received the First Honorable Mention.
As I stared at the screen of my computer my heart sank—I had in my mind contemplated nothing less than being named the Grand Prize Winner. A year earlier “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” had won the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival and set the standard for my expectations. To complicate matters, as a blogger I felt compelled to announce the results even though they were not to my liking and I knew in doing so it would also be incumbent on me to congratulate the winner (Stan Goldberg for “Lessons For The Living”), which didn’t bother me at all—I’m happy for Stan Goldberg, it’s an incredible feeling to win. So I began by posting the results to my status on facebook and to my surprise friends from all over the world began to congratulate me for my honorable mention. This gave me pause…I decided to delay writing a blog…I realized the matter required more thought than I had been able to give to it.
Now that time has passed, and with some help from my friends, I feel good about being honored with an honorable mention. My nature, of course, demands that my future work be so extraordinary that to be anything other than a Grand Prize Winner—impossible! And yes, I say this somewhat in jest. But also during these few weeks of reflection the whole journey, that is “Stan Lerner’s Criminal”, meandered through my mind. Although the story of “Criminal” could be a literary work unto itself I’d like to take a few moments to share some of my thoughts with you about this road less traveled.
I should start by saying that the act of writing a novel is a sure sign of insanity. And there were plenty of people, including friends and family, who believed that I had indeed lost what little touch I did have with reality.
I gave “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” my own name as part of its title because I have been dismayed over the years by people who claim to have done work attributed to others. I put my name and face on all of my work, and document the creative process, not as a matter of ego, but out of necessity to insure that there is not doubt as to the integrity of my work.
“Stan Lerner’s Criminal” was an intensely personal endeavor that took four years to write. A not so well known fact is that I originally wrote “Criminal” in the voice of the first person. This version of “Criminal” took two years to write, at the conclusion of which I had written a book that was too disturbing for anyone to read. It took two more years to rewrite “Criminal” into the book that was published—utilizing the traditional voice of a novel.
Lerner Wordsmith Press (my company) published “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” not because I wanted to be the publisher, but rather I was reasonably sure that no other publisher would publish a book like “Criminal”. And by “a book like ‘Criminal’” I mean a serious literary work that did not pander to either social and or political correctness.
Subsequent to “Stan Lerner’s Criminal” receiving superlative reviews and winning the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Book Festival both Barnes & Noble and Borders refused to put it in their respective stores. And because of this, no studios or production companies have tried to acquire the rights…Yet “Criminal” goes on, selling almost every book ever printed. Garnering international acclaim. And providing to me a seemingly infinite number of people who say that it is the best book they have ever read. A conundrum I suppose… Continue reading