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Frank McCourt and Me

I received an e-mail from an international bestselling author based in Spain seeking to hire me for his novel that was about to be published in the States. When I asked him how he had heard about me, he said Frank McCourt recommended me.

“Frank McCourt?” I responded with surprise. “But I don’t know Frank McCourt.”

The author said he and McCourt had met at a book event in Spain and that he asked McCourt to recommend a publicist in the United States. According to the author, Mr. McCourt replied without hesitation that I was the best publicist in Manhattan.

I was stunned, flattered and overwhelmed with emotion.

Frank McCourt won a Pulitzer in 1997 for his poignant and heart-wrenching memoir, Angela’s Ashes, which recounts his difficult childhood in Ireland. I had read Angela’s Ashes when it first came out and was not surprised when it won the Pulitzer in 1997. I thought it was well-deserved.

How had Frank McCourt heard about me? The author didn’t know. I did a web search for Mr. McCourt’s e-mail address to thank him, but it was not listed anywhere. I called his publisher, but the publisher would not give it out. After a futile search, I gave up.

Since then, I’ve received requests from other international bestselling authors whom I represented when their books were published in America.

Nick Stone, whose most recent thriller is The King of Swords (Harper; December 2008; Hardcover), is a household name in Britain, where his debut novel, Mr. Clarinet, received wide acclaim and hit the bestseller lists. Stone’s following in the States is growing. He continues to get rave reviews from the critics.

And bloggers everywhere, both here and abroad, continue to blog about his books, even almost a year after The King of Swords made its debut last December. Just recently, on September 10, I found a google alert for Blog A Book, which posted this comment:

"The King of Swords is a feat of black magic, combining a thrilling plot, unforgettable characters, and the uniquely menacing atmosphere that made Nick Stone's Mr. Clarinet the most celebrated crime debut of 2006."

Nick Stone lives in rain-drenched London but sets his thrillers in sunny Miami. Stone, who was born in Haiti, spends his vacations in the land of the sun which he fantasizes about from his overcast, drizzly London home when he writes his thrillers about the underbelly of Miami.

The King of Swords features a sinister killer who practices black magic and vodoo, and an evil fortune teller who plots the murders from what her Tarot readings reveal.

Mr. Stone told me that a tarot card reader eerily predicted his future, including when, where and how he would meet his wife, and what she would look like, and that he would become an author. He cleverly weaves the Tarot in his spellbinding thriller, which will send a chill up your spine. Autopsies of the murder victims reveal torn Tarot cards – The King of Swords – in the murder victims’ stomach.

Nick Stone’s much anticipated next book is due out in July 2010, and its exotic and forbidden setting will surely draw readers and expand his fan base.

This past Spring, another author, Stanley Trollip, contacted me from South Africa, about his novel, The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu, also published by Harper this past July. Stanley Trollip is the other half of the writing team, Michael Stanley. He and his co-author Michael Sears, received wide acclaim for their debut novel, A Carrion Death, which was nominated for many awards.

Set in Africa, The New York Times Book Review wrote:

“A first novel saturated with local color.
. . . Happily, Kubu is also hugely appealing—big and solid and smart enough to grasp all angles of this mystery. Readers may be lured to Africa by the landscape, but it takes a great character like Kubu to win our loyalty.”

The Second Death of Goodluck Tinubu is set in Botswana against the backdrop of the war in Rhodesia 30 years ago and its ramification on Africa today. For those interested in the current turmoil in Zimbabwe, this book is a must-read and an entertaining way of learning about a continent paradoxically steeped in beauty but riddled with ugly violence. And fans of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency will surely love this series wonderful local color and characters by two authors who live in South Africa, and who were involved in the anti-apartheid movement.

For more about both authors, please visit my weblog at

If anyone predicted twenty years ago, right before I was to embark on a career as an independent publicist, that I would be representing international authors from the comforts of my home office, I would have given them as much credibility to their prediction as I once did to the Tarot. When Nick Stone made a prediction last Spring, I heeded his words with a skeptic’s hope and a believer’s skepticism.

And if a Tarot card reader had predicted 20 years ago that the renowned Frank McCourt would be recommending me to an international bestselling author in Spain, I would have truly dismissed the reader as crazy.

I never did get to thank Frank McCourt. Unfortunately, the talented author passed away on July 19, 2009 at the age of 78.

Perhaps somewhere in cyberspace Frank McCourt’s cyber soul is reading this blog. Wherever you are in the universe, Frank McCourt, a heartfelt thank you.


That is the craziest - and most wonderful and wondrous - stories I've heard in a while: brushes with greatness and surprising connections. Good karma!

September 28, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

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