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Q&Q

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Q&Q

  1. 1. FRONTMATTER Author Joshua Knelman went from curious magazinejournalist EXPERT WITNESSED hen Toronto writer and journalist Joshua Knelman to art-theft authoritywhile researching his first non-fiction book first looked into a robbery at a smaliToronto art gallery in zoo3, he had no idea it would form the seed of his first non-fiction book, HotArt: Chas- ing Thieves and Detectives Through the Secret tYorld ofsnlenAn, to be published by Doug- las &Mclntyre this fall. At the time, Knelmanwas researching an ar ticle for Th e'Walr u s, eventually published in zoo5 as 'Artful Crimes," about the hush- hush elite art world and its international black market. The investigative story earned him a National Magazine Award in the Arts & Entertainment category. "W'hen I started to do some investigat- ing, it became apparent very quickly nobody I could talk to in Toronto on the police force knewverymuch about art theft, not even the gallery owner," he says. "I suddenly had to start makingphone calls to the FBI and Scot- land Yard in order to get any real context." After the article was published, Knelman says he was left with more questions than an- swers. Piqued by his story, Vancouver's Rain- 10 | QUTLLd/QUTRE I lULY/AUGUST20il coast Books acquired rights to a manuscript on spec, but a year later, in 2oo8, the com- pany shut down its publishing program. A U.S. deal with Simon & Schuster was also cancelled after Knelman's editor left the company. The setbacks didn?t deter the au- thor, though: he was already so immersed in the cloak-and-dagger world of inter- national art theft that he continued with his investigation. As Knelman pursued his research, he rcalized. one of the biggest challenges he faced as afirst-time bookwriterwas knowing whento stop interviewing, and when to shift his focus to analysis and writing. "I didn't figure out a goldenformula, butl did get to a pointwhere I started to hear the same things when I asked certain questions," he says. "That was a small victory because you start to feel like you know, or a piece of informa- tion starts to feel familiar to you." Time was also on Knelman's side during the writing process. It afforded him the free- dom to learn from previous interviews, for- mulate new questions, analyze and explore new theories. It also gave him an opportun- ity to work out structural issues with the manuscript, and sort through the volume of information he had collected over the past couple years. "Trying to create a coherent narrative that carries the reader through a story was definitely abig challenge for me," he says. Of course, not every magazine article can be successfully turned into a full-length book. TrenaY./hite, Knelman's editor onHot Art, says that when scouting for source ma- terial, publishers look for articles that con- tain "characters or an argument that can be developed in more than 5,ooo words." Nancy Flight, associate publisher at Greystone Books - which is publishing the magazine-to-book treeplanti ng memoir E at- ingDirtby Charlotte Gillthis fall - says fea- ture writers and journalists like Knelman generally dont enter the boot<-writing pro- cess with the necessary expert knowledge of their subject. "It's the author as neophyte or observer who is going to learn about it from [experts], whereas an author who wants to write a book really has to become the expert, has to develop the authority by doing a lot of research, has to wear that mantle of author- ity," she says. In the end, it was serendipity that landed Hot Art atD&M. In March zoro, news broke about a stolen Henry Moore sculpture and Paul Klee painting,later recoveredbya Can- adian art gallery, and Knelman became a popular media source. "Publishers are very concerned with platform," says Knelman's agent, Saman- tha Haywood of the Transatlantic Literary After news broke about a stolen sculpture and painting,Joshua Knelman became a popular media source Agency, who is currently looking for a new U.S deal for Hot Art. "The more an author has established themselves in other forms, and the more they've made a recognizable name for themselves, the more publishers are going to want to buythem." But it was Knelman's eight-year commit- ment to his story that solidified his reputa- tion as ah expert on Canadian art theft in ; the first place. "He became so passionate * abouthis subjectthathewantedto keep re- i searching and developing it," says White. e "He's been able to approach it with some E kindofauthority." -MichelleKay 3 - o

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