What possible connection could there be between Amazon, Saddam Hussein (remember him?) and a ski lift? Well, we have to go back to the dark days of the First Gulf War. I was spending a lot of time in my sealed room, gas mask at hand, waiting for the sirens to announce the arrival of the next missile. Work had, more or less, come to a standstill and all the usual distractions were out of the question. I needed to cheer myself up, so I looked for a way to forget the frequent sirens and Nachman Shai’s exhortations to “keep calm and drink water”. Looking around my office, converted to a bomb-proof, gas-proof, safe haven by the addition of a piece of thin plastic sheeting, the only thing that stood out was a pile of fresh writing paper and a couple of old pencils. The answer was obvious – I had everything needed to write a book.
I have always been an enthusiastic reader, but apart from a couple of articles I had written for the Jerusalem Post, I had never written anything longer than a birthday card. But how difficult can it be? All I needed was a plot and a hero, and a beautiful girl!
I decided to write about my favourite activity — skiing. I quickly came up with a plot involving a ski resort in the French Alps. My somewhat unlikely hero, Len Palmer, is a ski lift designer. He is asked by the management of Valtarant, a small and unknown ski resort drawn from my imagination, to create a mega-lift to join Valtarant with a large and famous neighbouring resort. After a quick look at the map, Len is excited by the project which will create one of the largest cable cars in the world. The challenge is irresistible and Len gladly accepts the job.
But things are not that simple. On arriving in Valtarant, Len meets the beautiful Brigitte Perinet, who persuades him that the project is not a good idea and will have serious consequences. Len is forced to consider the effects of ongoing climate changes on the delicate mountain environment. He tells Valtarant that he does not want the job and is advising against the whole project. He quickly discovers that Valtarant is run by a bunch of villains who will not take no for an answer. After he is nearly killed by a murderous sno-cat driver, Len is dragged into …. Well, I won’t spoil the book for you, but he has a lot of really exciting adventures!
Writing was a very interesting experience and the time passed quickly. Using the internet, I learnt a lot about designing ski lifts and was able to create a story with many incidents based on real-life events. By the time the war was over and we could emerge from our plastic wrapping, I had almost finished my best-seller and started to look for an agent to publish it and make me rich and famous. I made some dozens of copies of the first few chapters, bought a lot of large envelopes and some expensive stamps, and sent them off to as many publishing agents and actual publishers as I could find.
I soon found that I had a lot in common with some other literary hopefuls as I started to get rejection after rejection — “a great book, but not for us” seemed to be the general opinion. However, I took heart from some other rejections that had turned out to be somewhat mistaken:
“It is so badly written.” — The Da Vinci Code sold 80 million.
“Nobody will read a book about a seagull.” – Jonathan Livingston Seagull sold 44 million.
“An irresponsible holiday story that will never sell.” The Wind in the Willows sold 25 million.
Even Agatha Christie had five years of continuous rejection for her first book. However, unlike Agatha, there was no happy ending for me and, after all my enquiries were rejected. I put my manuscript in a drawer and, almost, forgot about it.
But the world keeps changing. One of the better changes for the would-be author is self-publishing through the internet. So, a few months ago, I dusted off my old type-written manuscript, updated the story to reflect the 25 years that had passed, (the world speed record for downhill skiing has gone from 221.8 km/hr to 252.45 km/hr) and turned it into an electronic e-book. I no longer needed a short-sighted publisher to get my book out into the world – a few clicks on a self-publishing site and I was, at long last, a published author.
The publishing process was very easy, a lot of fun and cost nothing. Encouraged by my e-book’s success, I am now writing the second Len Palmer Mystery. I hope that it will not be another 25 years before I click again on the “Publish” button.
Saddam Hussein is, happily, no longer with us and cannot read “Snow Job”, but I am sure he would be pleased that, thanks to Amazon, this book about “the mother of all ski lifts” is now available. If you want to see what happens to Len Palmer, ski lift designer, you can get “Snow Job – a Len Palmer Mystery” from Amazon Kindle (but be careful, there are no less than five other books with the title Snow Job.)
If you want to publish your book, just go to the Amazon KDP website (https://kdp.amazon.com).
The writer is a keen amateur skier.