Leopold Broom Investigates: Uncomfortable Threesomes… The Other Writer in the Room

by Lee Cross

The ‘&Droids’

Leopold BroomYou’ve seen them on the shelves, usually amongst the bestsellers in the crime section, books written by ‘JOE BLOGS & joanna smith’. Aren’t they just the weirdest books…

For me, it’s like going to the zoo… I’m walking through the park, I see the Lions in their field and think, ‘Lions! I freaking love Lions!’. I check them off the list and keep walking, eventually coming to the penguins behind their little windows. While they aren’t really my cup of tea I get that some people like them, so I don’t begrudge them a spot in the zoo.

Imagine though if there was a sign on the map by the main gate which read, ‘Lion and Penguin enclosure’. My first thought is, why? Why have the zookeepers done this, are there people out there who are honestly paying to see these two creatures thrown together? …Is that right?

I feel exactly the same about books where two competing entities have been thrown under the same cover… is it right?

It might be personal taste but I’ve always found that the trick to writing good fiction isn’t hidden inside the creative pieces of the puzzle. So much of what we read is in the house-keeping and structure… a beginning, a middle, an end… good pacing… lots of little things… things we only notice when they’re missing.

It’s one thing to have a good idea at the centre of your plot, it’s quite another to get a good story spinning around it. A great novel takes more than just ability, it takes application and right there, that’s the crux of my thoughts on the ‘&Authors’.

If they have the aptitude to format ideas to a high standard, as surely they must – otherwise, why would a big ticket writer (…the Lions if you will…) entrust them with the task of refilling their bank accounts… So, if they have that level of talent, what is it that’s stopping them from pursuing their own ideas? From producing their own original work?

I suppose it boils down to cash, you know, ‘the Benjamin’s’, at the end of the day. Most things do but I can’t shake the feeling that there should be more to writing than seeing how many zeros you can get on a cheque. Perhaps I’m being silly but I like the idea of the starving writer, turning the tables of life with pure passion. Romantic notions about artists, I like them, they’re part of the pleasure I get from reading.

Perhaps I’m being silly but I like the idea of the starving writer, turning the tables of life with pure passion. Romantic notions about artists, I like them, they’re part of the pleasure I get from reading.

The Lions on the other side of the coin, well they’re even worse, I just can’t understand them at all… They’ve invested so much of themselves into creating a novel that’s engaging, that has brought people to the edge of their seats and left them gagging for more… Only to, what, get fed up and lose interest?

So they turn the whole project over to someone else to finish the story for them???

Doesn’t that just seem entirely wrong?

As for the third person in the equation, us – the readers, what are we getting out of these collaborations; why are we reading these books, written by the &Droids and published for the profit… well, that’s easy to answer. We’re fans, we’re passionate, we always want the story to go on.

JRR nailed it, “the book is too short”. The great stories, or maybe it’s the great characters, we always want them to go on beyond the last page. By simply adding the magic ‘&’ a publisher can make Bourne, Bond, Cross, etc. keep on having adventures for as long as readers are prepared to pay for them to do so.

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