A recent, controversial New York Times article by Stanley Fish uses the results of a 2011 psychological study to argue readers and viewers experience no negative effects from knowing the ending of a story in advance. We asked a few of our friends what they thought–check back regularly today for their responses.
Oz isn’t real because Dorothy was dreaming the whole time.
Norman Bates’ mom is actually dead – he just wears her clothes.
Harrison Ford’s wife was the killer in PRESUMED INNOCENT.
If we were in the time of the height of the popularity of these films, and you were on the way into the theatre to see one of them and I stopped you in the lobby and told you these spoilers, you’d serve me up a well-deserved knuckle sandwich. Why? Because I would’ve ruined the movie for you. A child would understand that. And it takes a child-like mentality to believe otherwise.
The New York Times piece wins a gold medal in the Rationalization Olympics as it tries to support the notion that being pre-told the surprise/shocking/unforeseen conclusion to a story doesn’t necessarily take away from the movie-watching or TV show-viewing or book-reading experience.
As humans we’re wired to hope for ”The Surprise Ending” because we innately know that life itself is full of surprise endings. Your life can end as soon as you step off a curb … or, as it did in my case … it can change forever as soon as you swing your fist at another.
I haven’t discussed this soon-to-be-confession with Little Brown/Mulholland Books prior to writing this piece and they’ve been incredible supporters of mine so I hope they don’t think I am blind-siding them. And the truth is, I’ve never shared this information publicly before right now, at this very moment, as I type this.
But I believe enough time has passed that I can talk about it and I hope that readers understand that people change over the years.
Over two decades ago, when I was 18, I began an incarceration term in Fishkill Prison in New York for the killing of another teen in a fight over money. I was young and stupid and I didn’t mean to hurt anyone, let alone take someone’s life … but I deserved the time I got. I was 17 when the fight happened, so the records have always been sealed.
I spent the first year in prison hiding.
The second year crying.
And the third through sixth year in the Rec Room watching TV and Movies. The shows and films with twists and surprises and endings you never saw coming — those were the ones that stayed with me for weeks and months — those were the ones that were talked about and debated in The Yard. Those were the ones that were special.
They helped get me through my bid. Because I knew I wasn’t alone. Other people (even if they were fictional) had their lives turn on a dime as well — others were surprised by life’s fickle whimsies as much as I had been.
So let that be my vote against spoilers.
Nick Santora (author)
(ps – I never did time in prison. Never killed anyone. Made the whole thing up. Now that you know that, go back and read this piece and see if it is nearly as interesting now that you how it ends.)
NICK SANTORA was a lawyer before his first screenplay won Best Screenplay of the Competition at the 2001 New York International Independent Film Festival. A co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the hit A&E show Breakout Kings and former writer and co-executive producer of Prison Break, Nick Santora lives in Los Angeles, California.
Marcia Clark’s second Rachel Knight thriller GUILT BY DEGREES is in bookstores now–and the reviewers love it! John Valeri of The Examiner raves about how the novel “takes the strongest elements from an already assured debut and melded them into near perfection,” while Kirkus proclaims that Knight “transmutes the dull and ordinary into the bright stuff of legends…serious fun.” CNN champions its “fast-paced story” that “crackles with authenticity,” and the Financial Times called Clark’s newest a “blade-sharp read.”
Joe R. Lansdale’s EDGE OF DARK WATER continues to earn rave reviews online, most recently from White Cat Publications, The Mystery Reader, and Serial Distractions. Kirkus also chimed in, calling the novel “a highly entertaining tour de force.” Even the self-proclaimed World’s Toughest Book Critics can’t resist this one!
In other news, Joss Whedon’s THE AVENGERS film had the biggest opening weekend, ever, by a longshot. Which already has industry blogs like Cinema Blend and LA Times’ 24 Frames pondering just what went so drastically right for the franchise. Two words: HULK…SMASH!
We’d shared this last week, but in case you missed it the first time around, Nick Santora’s video of the opening scene of FIFTEEN DIGITS is leagues better than most book trailers and well worth your time…
Nick Santora’s new novel FIFTEEN DIGITS was recently reviewed in The Hollywood Reporter, which proclaimed the novel “a propulsive thriller that hurtles along to a brutal and–trust me–very unexpected conclusion.” Nick’s novel was also reviewed in the Washington Post, with reviewer Steve Donoghue writing: “Santora expertly ratchets up the tension….Readers will be mighty entertained.” LA Weekly also has a great interview with Nick, and touts the novel as “a mix of Dennis Lehane and Scott Turow.”
In other news, Lawrence Block’s much-acclaimed return to Matthew Scudder A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF was just awarded a Spinetingler Award for Best Novel in the Legend category. Congrats Larry!
A new section of our social writing project Triggers Down is up…
And Nick put together this absolutely incredible short film of the first scene in FIFTEEN DIGITS with a little help from a few of his friends–check it out below! Now THAT’S what we call a book trailer! Fullscreen it–you won’t be disappointed.
The problem with all you lawyers,” Mauro lectured Spade, “is you think the support staff ’s nothing but replaceable parts—just warm bodies in blue blazers running your files up and down the floors whenever you snap your fingers. You guys treat us like we’re invisible.”
Rich Mauro sat back in the booth and took a pull on his beer. Spade studied him for a moment, then smiled a disconcerting grin— a Cheshire Cat That Ate the Canary kind of thing.
“And that’s why you’re where you are and I’m where I am,” Spade pointed out smugly. “Where you see problems, I see opportunities.”
Jason Spade leaned across the table, over the half-finished Harp’s and the untouched onion rings. In the crowded bar, between the blare of the Smithereens on the jukebox and the howl of drunk Irish electricians toasting some dead union brother, there was no need to whisper, but Jason Spade’s was the kind of idea that demanded secretive tones. Even if whispers weren’t required by the environment, they were called for by the very nature of what he was about to propose.
“The benefit of being invisible,” Jason whispered, looking straight into Mauro’s eyes, “is that people don’t see you when you’re robbing them blind…now, how ’bout you and I get rich, Rich?”
And with that simple question, a chain of events began that changed, destroyed, and ended lives. People would be maimed, tortured, and killed. Millions of dollars would be stolen, then stolen away from the thieves themselves.
It was a question that would eventually make Rich Mauro, Jason Spade, Vicellous “Vice” Green, Dylan Rodriguez, and Eddie Pisorchek suffer beyond measure. Some of them would die because of it.
After it all went down, to the ill informed, it appeared that it happened because of money. But to those who were involved in it, to the guys who were so deep in the mess that it covered their mouths and pushed up into their nostrils, they understood that it all happened for love—love that was pure and real or love that had never been there to begin with, but love nonetheless.
And all of it—every cry of agony, every drop of blood—it all began with that conversation between Rich Mauro and Jason Spade, a conversation that lasted less than fifteen minutes, on a summer night, over a couple of beers in a graffiti-stricken booth in the back of McMahon’s Pub.
Nick Santora was a lawyer before his first screenplay won Best Screenplay of the Competition at the 2001 New York International Independent Film Festival. A co-creator, executive producer, and writer for the hit A&E show Breakout Kings and former writer and co-executive producer of Prison Break, Nick Santora lives in Los Angeles, California.
FIFTEEN DIGITS is now available in bookstores everywhere.
Warren Ellis recently started a weekly newsletter he’ll be using to discuss his upcoming projects, including his new novel GUN MACHINE (Mulholland Books, January 2013). Start getting excited now.
We’ve been running some great content from the showrunner of A&E’s BREAKOUT KINGS Nick Santora this week in celebration of the publication of his new novel FIFTEEN DIGITS, and the Mulholland Books paperback edition of SLIP & FALL. Check out Nick’s interview with Breakout Kings star Jimmi Simpson and the origin story of his first novel. More to come!
Elsewhere, Neely Swanson has a great Q&A with Nick up at No Meaner Place. And don’t miss great online reviews of FIFTEEN DIGITS from BestsellersWorld.com, Shots magazine, Crime Time, and Kirkus, who write: “Santora pulls no punches with his Faustus-like story.”
The second section of Triggers Down is up…
Yesterday evening Mysterious Bookshop hosted a great launch party for Mystery Writers of America Presents Vengeance, edited by Lee Child. Many contributors were in attendance, including Lee Child himself, and a star-studded audience including Sandra Brown came out to the celebration. Thanks, Mysterious, for the great party! And great to see everyone who showed up. Images from the event follow.
Speaking of the MWA, and are you excited for the Edgars Banquet tomorrow night? Attending the Symposium today?
This week Mulholland Books celebrates the publication of National Bestseller Nick Santora’s second novel FIFTEEN DIGITS with a week-long extravaganza of great content. Read on for an interview between Nick Santora and actor Jimmi Simpson of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Santora’s hit show Breakout Kings, on working together, Nick’s writing, Jimmi’s writing, and Nick’s acting.
Mulholland Books: How did you guys meet?
Nick Santora: At the 2009 Stringfellows Male Exotic Dancers Convention. We started out competitors but ended up friends.
Jimmi Simpson: Please don’t start this interview with lies, Nick.
Jimmi: It was the 2008 Stringfellows Convention. And we’re not friends.
How did you guys actually meet?
Jimmi: Well, Nick was trying to woo me into the project so he took me out for a fancy breakfast.
Nick: He’s not kidding. I took him to McDonalds. I bought him a coffee. To everyone in Hollywood, you should know it costs exactly $1.04 to get Jimmi Simpson to do your show.
Jimmi: I have very low self-esteem. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia got me for a tootsie roll and a packet of mustard.
Nick: That’s actually good for basic cable – I wouldn’t think they’d throw in the mustard.
And you guys work on a drama?
Nick, did you always know you wanted Jimmi for the role of Lloyd Lowery in A&E’s BREAKOUT KINGS?
Nick: Absolutely. I am a huge of fan of ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILAPELPHA. My co-creator on the series, Matt Olmstead, worked with Jimmi on LAW & ORDER so he was well aware of his talent, too. Jimmi is genius in everything he does – you’d be crazy not to want him on your show, not to want him as a collaborator, not to want him sexually.
Jimmi: I appreciate the support Nick, but we both know you originally offered the role to Ricky Lake and she passed.
Nick: Ya gotta reach for the stars…
Jimmi, the Showrunner of the show you’re a star of is also a novelist. Do you think he spreads himself to thin?
Jimmi: However Nick chooses to spread himself, I know it will be smooth and velvety like talent-flavored cream cheese.
Jimmi: I’ve read SLIP & FALL and loved it. I just finished FIFTEEN DIGITS and think it’s amazing. Nick’s ability to create and write for characters is one of the reasons he’s so highly regarded in this industry. This book is a perfect example of that. It reminded me that I love reading really cool crime fiction. FIFTEEN DIGITS is a roller-coaster ride of thrills and anxiety. Kinda like watching Nick thinking about picking up the check for dinner.
Nick: That is such garbage! I pick up the tab all the time!
Jimmi: And then hand it to someone else.
Nick: Need I remind of the McDonanld’s coffee?
Nick, other side of the coin now. You have a lead on your show who is also a writer as Jimmi recently signed on to write a pilot for 20th Century Fox.
Nick: What?! This is the first I’ve heard it! Jimmi, you’re fired.
Jimmi: Good. I can concentrate on my writing.
Nick: In all seriousness … I hate Jimmi. ‘Cause writing is kind of his “hobby”. Not that he doesn’t take it VERY seriously, he does, but it’s his hobby in the sense that he has spent the majority of his career, to this point, focusing on acting. But then he started writing on the side. And I’ve read his stuff. And it’s phenomenal. It’s better than phenomenal. It’s like when Michael Jordan decided to play baseball. What people don’t realize or remember is that Jordan had the longest hitting streak in his league that year and then became one of the best players in the Arizona Fall League. And it was his freakin’ hobby! So, I guess what I’m saying is, Jimmi Simpson is just like Michael Jordan in that he excels at something he hasn’t even begun to fully explore yet. And he’s Black.
Jimmi: He’s not being flippant about race – he’s referring to the color of my soul.
Nick: My point is, Jimmi could be, if he wanted to, running his own show today. I’ve read something like a billion scripts from writers in the business, from writers who want to be in the business, whatever – and Jimmi’s stuff is head, shoulders, pancreas and feet above all of it. I would work for Jimmi on one of his shows tomorrow.
Jimmi: Speaking of crossing over, the novelist/screenwriter/showrunner next to me also happens to be a budding thesp.
Jimmi: Actor. They call them ‘thesps’. Industry thing. You’ll pick it up soon enough.
Jimmi: Sure. But Nick here made his screen debut-
Nick: It was hardly a “debut”-
Jimmi: IT WAS A DEBUT, MAN! You presented yourself to the world. You stepped in front of that camera and were like, “Here I am baby! Get it while it’s hot!”.
Nick: Well, thank you.
Jimmi: Thank YOU. For the gift of your acting.
Are you being sarcastic, Jimmi?
Jimmi: No. No I am not.
Nick: He is.
Jimmi: I certainly am not. Nick took the role of Prison Guard in the season finale of BREAKOUT KINGS and elevated it to new heights. Those baby browns he’s got can bore a whole into your soul. Some serious Omar Shariff shit.
Nick: I wasn’t a damn Prison Guard. I was U.S. Marshal.
Jimmi: Oh. Sorry.
Jimmi: What’s that?
Nick: His name. My character’s name. It wasn’t just “U.S. Marshal”.
Jimmi: You gave your character a name?
Nick: And a rich and complex backstory.
Jimmi: Oh. Interesting. Did you utilize that in the filming of the scene?
Nick: YOU WERE IN THE SCENE WITH ME!
Jimmi: Right. Right. Which guy were you again?
Nick: This interview is over. Just please buy my book – FIFTEEN DIGITS – so I don’t have to work with this guy anymore.
Jimmi: You love me.
Nick: I do.
At The Kill Zone, Joe Moore has an insightful post about the pros and cons of using a pen name that’s definitely worth your time.
The Rap Sheet has a great guest post from Brad Parks on the inspiration for his newest novel THE GIRL NEXT DOOR.
Michael Robotham’s newest Joe O’Loughlin thriller BLEED FOR ME is in bookstores now and continues to garner fantastic praise. Marilyn Stasio reviewed the novel in The New York Times Book Review, writing that “Robotham writes with grave tenderness about unhappy people caught in terrible situations…” CBS News ran a great interview with Robotham on Author Talk. And don’t miss this great Salon review, or online raves from Spinetingler, Murder By Type, Auntie M Writes, and the Murder by the Book Mystery Blog.
Bloggers are also loving Joe R. Lansdale’s EDGE OF DARK WATER, which is working its way into bookstores across the country as its March 27th publication date approaches. But don’t take our word for it–check out reviews from Bill Crider’s Pop Culture Magazine, Demon Theory, Mystery Scene, and B&N’s Ransom Notes.
Looking for some great Spring reads to look forward to? We can’t wait until Nick Santora’s amazing FIFTEEN DIGITS hits bookstores next month. Bestsellers World’s review should certainly whet your appetite; Julie Moderson raves that “Nick Santora has a unique style of writing that I can only compare to John Grisham or Harlan Coben or a wonderful combination of both.” Marcia Clark’s GUILT BY DEGREES, coming in May, received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which says: “Clark humanizes her tough lead, and gets the mixture of action and investigative legwork just right, more than making the case for a long life for this West Coast analogue to Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper.”
Are you seeing The Hunger Games this weekend?
And hot dang–Seth Grahame-Smith fans everywhere take notice: