I suppose I am like that broken record when I continue to tell people that the highlight of my writing career is when readers actually ‘get the point.’ It is an extraordinary experience for someone like me when that happens.
The way I see it, Stephen King stands alone at the top of the writers pyramid and defines what being a real author is – then there are the elite, authors like John Grisham, Dean Koontz and others who have amassed fortunes from their work, and they are followed by writers like my friend Steven Pressfield who has done well enough to live comfortably on the hillside of Malibu. At the bottom of the food chain are chumps like me who have something to say and say it for the love of saying it. We garner pocket change with the hope of gaining a broader audience and maybe someday, we’ll hit the jackpot.
In 1999, I befriended Steven Pressfield, and he has encouraged and inspired me for 15 years. I still communicate with him and last summer, I spent an evening with him and had dinner in Malibu. Steve’s first book was The Legend of Bagger Vance, which Robert Redford made into a wonderful film; Mr. Pressfield followed Bagger Vance with a series of best-selling historical novels. In recent years, Steve has been VERY successful in the ‘blogging business’ with his self-help and advisory columns and books. He even appeared on Oprah’s show several months ago. His most recent novel was The Profession in 2011, a cautionary tale of the future and quite a departure from his earlier work.
When my second novel The Hamsa was released in 2010, Mr. Pressfield was gracious enough to post a review on Amazon. In
it he wrote,
“… best of all, it [The Hamsa] is about something (which too often historical fiction is not.) Mr. Kraay has pulled off the most difficult stunt of all: to start with historical reality – meaning real characters like Bronisław Czech, his hero, who did real things at real times but about whom we in the present know very little – and to craft from these elements a wholly original (but vividly believable and, we hope, true to life) narrative that breathes reality into and brings illumination to the acts and moral crises lived through by his protagonist and his contemporaries …
The opening statement is the most significant: it’s about something. That was so meaningful to me that I use similar words as a subtitle to my this website: “Novels that Say Something.”
For me to keep doing what I do, I have to ask myself the question: Is it more important that my books reap financial rewards, or that they generate statements from readers who indicate a true understanding of the work? The answer is obvious, because I continue to do what I do with minimal financial recompense.
I wrote a blog recently on “E.S. Kraay Online” titled ‘The 7-Year Question.’ I could paraphrase it here and ask myself, “If I spent years writing a book and it failed critically and commercially, would I consider the effort a worthwhile venture?” I easily answer, “Yes.” And so I continue ….
Most of all, thanks to all the readers who have read my books and truly understand the core values of each. Your support and encouragement is priceless.