The ProsenPeople

I'm No Longer Just An Author

Friday, July 30, 2010 | Permalink

In his earlier posts, Adam Langer set out to write a screenplay and wrote a book in two months. His newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He has been blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

Even though I finished writing The Thieves of Manhattan less than a year ago, the universe I describe in my novel is already beginning to seem to me like a quaint artifact of a bygone age. The exclusive society to which my hero Ian Minot gains entry—one of power lunches at Michael’smeetings at the Century Club, and tony author wing-dings attended by the literati—seems as if it is being replaced by a far-more-competitive, faster-paced, and perhaps-more-egalitarian world in which authors must constantly work on reinventing themselves to be heard above the din. For, I’m no longer just an author—I’ve become a book video producer, a guest blogger, an essayist. I’m on Twitter now; I’ve hustled blurbs from famous writers and infamous ones. I corresponded about the book with writers who inspired me when I was growing up, while waiting vainly to hear back from this guythis guythis guy, and this guy, all of whom inspired me too.

I now post articles to Facebook. My publicist encourages me to do Q and A’s and write op-eds, a bunch of which have wound up on the cutting-room floor. Some authors might grouse about this rapidly-changing landscape, but I find myself kind of excited by it. In fact, it has given me some ideas for a sequel. But there’s no time to think about that right this minute. I’ve got to finish writing a script for a bookstore reading of Thieves, and then I have to work on editing my next novel, which I hope to finish in the next month or so. I don’t want to talk too much about that book, but I can say that it has epigrams from two of my favorite movies, that a lot of it is set in the town where I went to high school, and that, while I’ve been writing it, I’ve been listening to these songs a lot. Once I’m done with that, I might want to take another look at that screenplay I began writing two summers ago. My novel’s 272 pages long; 120 doesn’t seem like much.

Adam Langer’s most recent novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. Visit his official website here and visit here to view all of his posts for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning‘s author blogging series.

Book Trailer for The Thieves of Manhattan

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Adam Langer’s book trailer for his newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan:

Adam Langer Writes a Book in Two Months

Wednesday, July 28, 2010 | Permalink

In his last post, Adam Langer set out to write a screenplay. His newest novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He will be blogging all week for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

So, after a few revisions, I had a screenplay that I thought was decent. If nothing else, I thought it could serve as a calling card if I ever wanted to pitch Hollywood with a great literary adaptation idea. I sent it to my LA agent who said he wanted to show it to a fairly well-known director who would be coming by his office later in the week. I never heard a complete report on that meeting, but I figured that no news meant bad news. I started in on another revision, but kept getting hung up on details. I discussed my difficulties with my pal Jerome, who told me that I should rewrite the story as a novel. “That would take a while,” I said. “Nah,” he said. “I bet it would take a month.” I took that as a challenge and started work on the novel. I retained about 30% of the ideas from the screenplay, and wrote the rest from scratch, adding details inspired by some of my favorite literary hoaxes.

I began with a chapter about a character I called “The Suave Man.” I worked as fast as I could, as intensely as I knew how, aiming for 2,000 words per day. I typed to the beat of some aggressive music that I found inspiring and some even-more-aggressive music that I found even more inspiring. I rented a dreadful apartment during an even-more-dreadful winter in a somewhat hip Chicago neighborhood, not far from the home of a Jewish writer friend of mine. But at least the apartment did inspire me to write, and though I didn’t finish the first draft in one month as Jerome said I would, I did finish it in two. When I was done revising, I sent it to my agent, who sent it to my publisher, who said she wanted to publish it in July, 2010.

I completed revisions on September 10, 2009 at about 6 PM, just a few hours after writing a blurb for a book by a funny and talented college pal of mine and just a couple of hours before the birth of my second daughter, Solveig (insert purportedly pithy but actually presumptuous statement likening artistic production to childbirth here). That could have been the end of the story, but…

Adam Langer’s most recent novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. Visit his official website here and check back all week for his posts for the Visiting Scribe.

Adam Langer Writes a Screenplay

Monday, July 26, 2010 | Permalink

Adam Langer’s fourth novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. He will be blogging for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning.

I had been on the West Coast, staying in a hovel just a few blocks away from one of my favorite places and finishing up research on a memoir about my father and speaking to a very prominent Jewish organization. The memoir was emotionally difficult work, and I knew that for my next project, I would want to do something fun. A screenplay sounded like a good change of pace, so I met with my agent in his plush office just for a few moments before he had to meet with a far more celebrated client. He told me briefly about screenplay structure—how a script needs to have three acts, last about 120 pages, and have an “eleven o’clock” moment on page 90. Before he left, he gave me a stack of screenplays, which I read on the plane ride home; one of the scripts was rumored to be a Tom Cruise vehicle.

My initial idea was to see if I could adapt one of my novels into a script, but I had trouble motivating myself to revisit an old work and, instead, turned my attention to a novel idea I had abandoned—a comic thriller set in my neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and told in a hyper-literary patois. I enjoyed the pace of the writing and the made-up language I was using (I had spent more than enough time reading hard-boiled thrillers that used their own hard-to-decipher lingo and wanted to pay those writers back). But the story, which had something to do with manuscript authentication, never coalesced in my mind, and I didn’t get much further than the first scene, set in a fictionalized version of a coffee shop where I like to write. Other writers, Jewish and otherwise, seem to enjoy the atmosphere at this coffee shop as well.

I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to write in my screenplay. I talked about collaborating with a writer friend of mineon an update of a Henry James novel, but we never made it past a quick conversation about it while walking around a fairly grotesque Chicago food festival. Without necessarily knowing where I was going, I began work on a script about a frustrated young barista named Ian, who finds himself embroiled in a confidence game when he considers putting his name to a fake memoir. I love films about con games and thought that the literary world would be a great place to set one. I found myself inspired by a great Scandinavian film about the writing life, which I saw with a fellow Jewish writer, and a classic Hollywood satire, which I saw with a fellow not-so-Jewish editor. After a few months of work, I wasn’t sure whether I had a great script or not, but I did have one with three acts and 120 pages and an “eleven o’clock moment” round about page 90.

View Adam’s first dabblings in screenplay writing:

All The Daisies

Thieves of Manhattan

His most recent novel, The Thieves of Manhattan, is now available. Visit his official website here and check back all week for his posts on the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning's author blogging series.