The Strange Things You Find on Authors’ Websites
Authors’ websites aren’t just for reviews any more. A quick survey of the writers on the fiction best-seller list turned up Spotify playlists, blogs “written” by their dogs, movie reviews and more.
Lee Child, whose latest book, “Blue Moon,” enters the fiction list at No. 1, links to a company offering custom-roasted coffee named after his iconic character Jack Reacher. (As Janet Maslin noted in a recent profile of Child, Reacher “downs amounts of coffee that would put most people on life support.”) Coffee is “Reacher’s favorite drink, and mine, no cream, no sugar,” Child writes. “I love this blend, and Reacher would too.” A pound will set you back $14.95.
John Grisham, the author of the No. 2 novel, “The Guardians,” doesn’t promote merchandise on his website — but he does write letters to his readers there, including a recent one that begins, “A bit of advice: Decline the invitation to zip-line across a crocodile-infested body of water.”
Michael Connelly, whose latest thriller, “The Night Fire,” is at No. 3, has a website brimming with odds and ends, including a helpful list of police and F.B.I. acronyms, a Spotify playlist featuring the music his characters listen to and a photo gallery of the real sites mentioned in his books.
Ann Patchett has the No. 6 fiction title, “The Dutch House,” but don’t go to her website for news about her — go there to read “Shop Dog Diaries,” which is “written” by the dogs who have the run of her Nashville bookstore, Parnassus. “Hello, friends! We, the shop dogs of Parnassus Books, have some updates for you. It seems that while we were out back on the grassy spot behind the store, toasting our bellies in the summer sun, some changes happened in the shop. Here’s a report.”
Stephen King, whose new novel, “The Institute,” is at No. 8, has a treasure trove of a website. You can buy a “Property of Shawshank Prison” T-shirt (all proceeds go to his nonprofit, the Haven Foundation), keep track of King’s forthcoming work or peruse an excellent list of frequently asked questions. Sample: Do you really have a haunted house at your home on Halloween? “Absolutely not — don’t come to my house on Halloween. We’ve done trick-or-treat a few times and we had 600 or 800 — one time we had 1,400 people show up for candy and treats and it’s fun, it’s great to see everyone, but it wears everybody out and it plays hell with the law so we’re not doing that anymore.”
Finally, James Patterson, author of the No. 10 novel, offers short movie reviews for his fans, like this one for “The Joker”: “If you’re feeling a little suicidal, and want to feel a lot suicidal, this is your movie. I can’t decide whether it’s an A or an F.”