Sunday, September 22, 2013

Butch Edgerton --The Lion of Noir

Somewhere in Indiana this morning, the sun still low in the sky and the church crowd getting ready for a sermon, Leslie H. (Butch) Edgerton's wife Mary is trying to get The Lion of Noir into the family Ford. The train station is not crowded, quiet except for Les's roaring and growling. Three nights in Albany, New York, holding court at Bouchercon, has seriously pissed him off.

"That --------  can't write for ----, and he makes more money than God."

Mary pats his shoulder and tells him it will be all right. His time for the big bucks can't be far away.

"That ------ knows dick about prisons and prisoners. Nothing!"

Mary hands him a hot cup of coffee with one sugar and a dab of cream. He sips and tells Mary about a publishing story he heard the day before from another writer.

"If that son-of-a-bitch had done that to me, I would have ------- killed him."

Mary knows he'll be better by the time the coffee is finished. He met a lot of friends and really enjoyed himself at Bouchercon 2013, but he's not at his best in the morning. In fact, she can tell her proximity is already improving his mood. For The Lion of Noir, home with Mary is always a better place.

"What's for breakfast," he says. "The food was awful."

Les is the author of wonderful books, including HOOKED, a writer's guide for producing readable fiction, and his latest novels, THE RAPIST and THE BITCH. With titles like that, you know it's not going to be about the laughs. Les lived a hard, brutal, and -- much earlier -- slightly wicked life. He knows what Noir is about: For most people, life doesn't have many happy endings.

Writers know Les's work is the stuff of great literature. More of the world might know it too if Les didn't fight so hard for his art. Those two titles above were not the first pick of publishers, but Les said they were the titles if you want to publish them. On the verge of signing with a Very Big Agent a few years ago, Les walked away because she made him wait too long. He loves writing. He loves writers. And he thinks they are preyed on.

But you agents, editors, and marketing people better not prey on Les.

He'll ------- kill you.

P.S. --  Les called me and said I made him look a little harsh. Maybe I did forget about how many people love this generous, giving, intelligent man, or how many younger writers he's guided, pushed, and extolled to the publishing world. But that's only after he's had his morning coffee. ac

P.P.S. -- Of course I was too harsh. It's what I do -- exaggerate. Les is one of the kindest, most gregarious men I've ever spent time with. He makes new friends wherever he travels, including TFA  five or six years ago at a Kentucky writer's retreat. TFA said if I didn't straighten out the record, he was killing me off. ac