I’m no genius, but I like to think people who read my blogs are. Why? Because if they find me, they discover curious items about the world, together with references that will allow them to pursue further information, if they choose. Blogs featuring boxing cats and the dogs that spar that with them are entertaining, and who doesn’t like a laugh? But laughter isn’t always my aim. Much of what I write has complexity and to this I add my personal thoughts. If the material is meaty enough, I hope it will bring the reader back another day.
One writer who makes the arcane enjoyable is Michael Lewis. He’s written four books, Liar’s Poker, Blind Side, Moneyball and The Big Short. The first is about Lewis’ experience as a trader on Wall Street. Having read it, I can say it provides more horror than Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Moneyball I passed over because I doubted even Lewis could make me salivate over baseball statistics. Nonetheless, it did become a bestseller. His latest publication, The Big Short, takes a look at the moneymen who made a killing during the mortgage debacle of 2007, an event which brought the country to the brink of a depression. All of Lewis’ books deal with complex issues. Nonetheless, three of them have been translated into movies, starred big name actors and made lots of money. The latest, The Big Short, is out now and promises to be another box office winner. When asked how he turned arcane subjects in to moneymakers, Lewis replied:
It’s never enough to explain complicated things to a reader: the reader needs first to want to know about them. If the thing is seriously complicated, the reader must very badly want to know about it. (“Big Short, Big Screen, by Michael Lewis, Vanity Fair, Holiday Issue, 2015, pg.114.)
If I were writing a primer for fledgling authors, Lewis’ remarks would be the opening sentence. To have an idea for a book isn’t enough, no matter how informative or complex. A writer must intuit what the audience wants to know. Their interest and not the writer’s is the primary concern.