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Authors Booked at Convention

May 28, 1988|DENNIS McLELLAN | Times Staff Writer

Laguna's T. Jefferson Parker, whose long-awaited second novel, "Little Saigon," is being published this fall, will be the guest of honor at a meet-the-author party hosted by his publisher aboard a yacht in Long Beach Harbor.

Dean Koontz of Orange, the prolific thriller writer dubbed "the Master of Menace," will be signing autographs at the booths of three different publishers.

And Robert Ray, Irvine's self-described "guerrilla book marketer," will be doing his darnedest to promote his latest Matt Murdock escapade, which will hit bookstores in September.

Orange County writers will be well represented at the annual convention and trade exhibit of the American Booksellers Assn., now under way at Anaheim Convention Center. A record 22,000 booksellers, publishers, editors, agents and authors are convening over the next four days to sell and peruse the titles that will be on bookstore shelves this fall.

Parker, whose 1985 murder mystery, "Laguna Heat," helped put Orange County on the literary map, undoubtedly will draw the national spotlight onto the county again when "Little Saigon," also set in Orange County, is released by St. Martin's Press in the fall.

Parker, who two weeks ago finished correcting the galleys of "Little Saigon," said this will be his first booksellers convention so he doesn't know what to expect.

"I've heard it's quite the wingding and just a whole heck of a lot of activity," he said. "It's just a swap-meet extravaganza of books, I guess."

Parker said he is looking forward to the "Meet Jeff Parker" party St. Martin's Press is throwing for him aboard a yacht Sunday after a more mundane author party his publisher is hosting for him this evening in Anaheim.

"That's kind of the big deal for me," said the typically understated Parker. "I'll be cruising around the harbor and pumping flesh, I guess. You know you yak about the book and float around and have a good time."

A.E. Maxwell (the Laguna Niguel husband-and-wife writing team of Ann and Evan Maxwell) won't be floating in a yacht, but the veterans of past conventions plan to do a lot of talking to booksellers this weekend.

Evan Maxwell said they'll be meeting with specialty bookstore representatives, in particular, to promote "Just Enough Light to Kill." The Doubleday hardback, which is the fourth in their Orange County-based Fiddler mystery-thriller series, has been out a month. Late this summer, Bantam will publish the paperback version of the third in the series, "Gatsby's Vineyard."

The Maxwells also plan to meet with their editor at Pocket Books, which will be publishing the first in what they call their Pacific Rim historical series next year.

"The convention saves us a trip to New York is what it boils down to," Evan Maxwell said. "We work for several publishers, and this gives us a chance to meet with all of them in one room, as well as to talk with booksellers.'

Nothing short of an earthquake could keep Robert Ray from attending the convention.

Unlike fellow St. Martin's Press author T. Jefferson Parker, Ray must orchestrate his own promotion for his new mystery novel, "Dial M for Murdock," featuring Newport Beach-based detective Matt Murdock.

Ray said hardback publishing houses do not promote "category stuff." Ray says with a good-natured laugh: "Do you know how many mysteries they're bringing out this fall? Forty. Just that one company." As for his friend Parker, Ray said, "He's way near the front of the (publisher's) catalogue, and I'm on page 100, so it's real different."

Never one to miss a golden opportunity, however, Ray said he will be passing out 2,000 specially designed flyers ("The ABA Booksellers Guide to Murdock Country") and 300 business cards that say, "Murdock Is My Business."

Ray's self-promotional approach pays off.

"The average shelf life of a paperback is three weeks," he said. "Wherever I've done the marketing, the books are still on the shelf. But it's an uphill battle, man."

Of all the Orange County authors who will be promoting books at the convention, probably none will be as busy as Dean Koontz.

This morning he'll be in the Berkley booth signing paperback copies of "Watchers," which has been on the New York Times best-seller list.

Berkley will issue "The Mask" as its No. 1 title for the month in December. The thriller was published seven years ago under one of Koontz' pen names, Owen West. This time it will be issued under his real name.

And early next year, Berkley will release the paperback version of "Lightning," a thriller that also made the New York Times best-seller list.

In the afternoon, Koontz will be in the Warner Books booth signing posters of "Oddkins," a "fable for all ages" with 50 pages of illustrations. Koontz describes it as "a very unusual novel." How unusual is it? The publisher's promotional copy offers this teaser: "All is well until the night the bad toys came up from the basement."

Although it won't be out until January, Koontz's just-completed suspense novel, "Midnight," will be featured at Putnam's booth.

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