Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why there aren't many corporate novels

My most recent novel, Termination Man, takes place in the corporate world, specifically in the automotive sector, where I spent about twenty years of my adult life. 

Unfortunately, the English-speaking world is characterized by a shortage of novels that take place in cubicle farms and factories. (This isn't the case in Japan, by the way, where corporate novels are quite numerous and popular.)

In the English speaking world, the protagonists of most novels are drawn from the following professions:

a.) spies/CIA
b.) police officers/FBI agents
c.) teachers/professors
d.) writers/novelists

The reasons for the predominance of the first two (a & b) is obvious: The work of spies and police officers offers limitless opportunities for conflict--which is the stuff of any good novel. This doesn't take anything away from writers who have prospered with spy and cop protagonists, by the way. Vince Flynn and Michael Connelly both craft multi-layered tales that are entertaining beyond the physical conflicts presented in their books. However, a novelist does have a head start on an exciting story if his protagonist solves crimes or catches terrorists for a living.

The numerous novels that feature main characters in the writing and teaching professions are another matter. There is nothing inherently exciting about writing books or teaching Freshman Composition for a living. Rather, this is a reflection of the sorts of folks who are drawn to the task of writing novels. All writers are writers, of course; and many of them gravitate toward "day jobs" in the teaching field. Following Ernest Hemingway's dictum of "write what you know," these novelists have opted to translate the materials of their own lives into stories--with mixed results. (While I've read a lot of good cop and spy novels, I've found most novels about writers and teachers to be on the lukewarm side.)

On the other hand, corporate cubicle-dwellers don't show up a lot in novels. And when they do show up, the treatment of their working lives tends to be superficial. Once again, it is safe to say that there is some self-selection at work: Most people who are driven to be novelists aren't simultaneously driven to work twenty years at an insurance company or a bank. As a result, few working novelists have the background to delve seriously into the ins and outs of corporate politics, battles with human resources, and the machinations of management cliques.   

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New Novel: Termination Man on Kindle

I've just released a new novel, Termination Man. This one is a corporate thriller, based somewhat on my own years in the automotive industry. Below is the cover and the Amazon marketing blurb:

A long forgotten double murder of two young women in Ohio. A struggling corporation in turmoil. Two powerful men, two bitter rivals, each one hiding his own secrets. One driven by lust and rage, the other driven by a conflicted sense of right and wrong.


“The novel that takes an unflinching look at the dark underside of the 21st century workplace.”

CRAIG WALKER is a hotshot young MBA with his own consulting firm. He’s handsome, rich, and in demand. His Fortune 500 clients—the most powerful men and women in industry—call him “The Termination Man.”

Craig Walker is no ordinary management consultant. He’s a spook, a workplace spy. Assuming false identities, Craig works undercover, building the evidence that will allow his corporate clients to terminate unwanted employees without legal repercussions. His targets are the troublemakers, the agitators, the employees whom management believes are no longer “good fits” for their hyper-competitive organizations. 

Craig Walker believes that he serves the cause of economic efficiency, and in a way, the greater good. Most of his targets don’t like their jobs anyway. In a free market, “a firing isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sometimes an employee needs to leave a bad a situation.”

SHAWN MYERS is a manager at TP Automotive, a global giant in the automotive industry. Shawn struggles to control his lust and rage, and to escape a hideous past that might catch up with him at any moment. His forbidden desire for a girl young enough to be his daughter threatens to drive him over the edge.

When TP Automotive hires the Termination Man to remove two innocent employees from its payroll, Craig Walker is forced to reexamine his notions of justice and morality. But these questions are soon overwhelmed by the dangers that he faces from the TP Automotive management team. After Shawn Myers commits a heinous act in Craig’s presence, the Termination Man discovers that his new clients will resort to any means in order to protect one of their own.

For now Termination Man is available only on Kindle. A paperback version is in the works.