Tag Archives: david ebershoff

Rock Stars of the Publishing World

Image result for editor and author

Now, granted, I’m a little bit biased here, but let me draw you a picture. In your head. Can you see it yet? Let me try harder.

Remember when Dave Winfield was drafted by teams in the NBA, NFL, ABA (American Basketball Association) and Major League Baseball (as a freaking pitcher!) – and all in the same year! Okay, that guy had sick skills to pay the bills.

Then there was renegade Bo Jackson, an all-star in both Major League Baseball and the NFL. (Anyone remember the “Bo Knows” ads back in the early ’90s?)

Possibly the best-known and glitziest cross-sport athlete, however, is “Neon” Deion Sanders, who, in 1992, became the only athlete ever to hit a home run in the Majors and score a touchdown in the NFL in the same week. Booya!

Anyway, forget all that jazz. In the literary world, many will tell you that you’re either an editor or a writer. You can’t be both, and certainly not at the same time like the above-mentioned freaks of athletic nature.

Well, kudos to Literary Hub (@lithub) for putting us word nerds in our place and singling out some titans of literature that have indeed been cross-publishing all-stars, switch hitters, if you will, who played for both teams at one time in their careers.

In a piece titled “7 Writers Who Were Also Editors (And the Books They Edited),” LitHub associate editor Emily Temple (@knownemily) put together a list to make your head spin. Talk about a group of people who wear a cornucopia of hats!

Aside from their individual success as writers, you’ve got to take a look at the complete list of authors these people have edited in the past and ask yourself how they could have pulled this off.

On a personal note, my favourite person on this list (again, slightly biased) is David Ebershoff, a man who 1) is not only a brilliant novelist; 2) not only a remarkably gifted editor in fiction but non-fiction as well; 3) not only edited some of David Mitchell’s best work (Cloud Atlas, Thousand Autumns…WTF?); but 4) is arguably as intelligent and gracious as Mitchell himself, making the two of them – to use the above analogy – kind of like having Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid on the same hockey team (2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, anybody?).


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To Follow Your Dream or Not?

For all those people who’ve grappled with the question of whether to quit their full-time job (i.e. a steady paycheque) and pursue their dream career (i.e. unsteady income), you might want to read an article in today’s Wall Street Journal. There’s a piece about David Ebershoff, the former Random House editor and executive who quit his posh job two weeks ago to become a full-time writer.

To recap: Mr. Ebershoff quit his position as Random House vice president and executive editor. During his time there, he edited literary giants such as Norman Mailer. He was more recently the American editor for David Mitchell. He also has the distinction of editing several (as in more than two!) Pulitzer Prize-winning books, one of which I really enjoyed about North Korea by Adam Johnson called The Orphan Master’s Son.

So why would someone leave this kind of fame, fortune and respect behind him? Obviously it’s not the stellar royalties authors make these days on physical books. Like Andy Weir, David Ebershoff balanced work (he’s also been teaching writing courses at Columbia and NYU) with his love of writing over the years. At some point, one had to give way to the other. Nobody can balance a full-time job with a writing career and expect to stay sane (or at least moderately engaged socially with other human beings).

I applaud David and his strength/bravery/foolishness/romantic nature to follow his passion. Or, as my friend Maria A. likes to say, Follow your bliss! I’ve gotten to know David a little over the last year or so and he strikes me as a bright, intelligent person who has too many literary-related gifts for one person. I also made this fateful decision in 2004 when I gave up a cush lecturing job at a respectable university to pursue writing as a full-time gig. I know how scary it can be and can only hope that David’s journey is as soul-affirming and eye-opening as my own has proven so far.

Even with his hectic schedule over the last few years, David managed to publish two novels (The 19th Wife and Pasadena) and a collection of short stories (The Rose City). His latest novel, The Danish Girl, has recently been made into a major motion picture. Click here to watch the trailer.

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