I recently read a thriller by Tom Clancy and Peter Telep entitled against all enemies, which got me thinking about collaborations between colossally famous writers and relative unknowns.
The book, entitled Against All Enemies is a good one. It pits a classic Clancy-esque lone wolf hero against everyone from the Taliban to Mexican drug cartels. How cool is that? (Answer: it makes for a very entertaining book which is definitely better than this one).
It’s a successful collaboration which, having read some of Clancy’s later solo efforts, makes one think that Telep did most of the writing. It also makes one thankful. Clancy had, either because no one dared to edit his work in his latter years or simply because his writing had deteriorated, become a bloated bore in books such as The Teeth of the Tiger.
But basically, these aren’t collaborations between two bright stars. For a brilliant example of that, check out Good Omens. No, these books are built this way for the simple purpose of bringing a steady revenue stream to a needy publisher.
Simply stated, before his death in 2013 Tom Clancy was (and if he’s anything like Robert Ludlum, he still is) a cash cow for his publisher. But for whatever reason, Clancy couldn’t push out all the books the publisher wanted. Enter the “created by Tom Clancy” and “Tom Clancy’s Op Center” or whatever. A similar (albeit not identical) approach works really, really well for books sold under James Patterson’s name.
These books sell. They adhere to the brand and they give customers what they want. People know what they’re getting with these. So… are they a good thing or a bad thing?
The people who say “no” will argue that the time wasted with these is time that could be better spent reading the classics. Or the newest truly deep modern novel which finally explains the human condition.
I beg to differ.
I ascribe to the school of thought that says that anything that gets people to read is a good thing, even if these books are essentially brain-off beach reads. That’s fine. Reading is reading and it isn’t staring at a cel phone to see if anyone has posted something a little less stultifying on Facebook.
And, now that Clancy isn’t writing them, they seem to be reasonably decent books, too.
And besides, afer reading The Stranger, I was ready for something a bit more entertaining!
Gustavo Bondoni is the author of Outside, which, if you like a good thriller, should be right up your alley.