New Novel Skewers Publishing Industry

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“Thieves, Whores & Dinosaurs” by Jon Davis pokes fun at America’s literati and the eccentric personalities it celebrates.

Shedding a little light on the absurdities of the publishing world is just too much fun.

When Seattle author Jon Davis began writing “Thieves, Whores & Dinosaurs” he was very much an outsider looking in on a publishing industry that was incredibly insular. His first novel, “Excruciating Bliss,” had been passed over by just about every publisher in New York. “They didn’t even look at my work,” Davis explains. “They ignored what I had written because I wasn’t a celebrity or already a bestseller.”

His perceived exclusion from the industry is what drove Davis to begin work on “Thieves, Whores & Dinosaurs.” The story takes place on a luxury yacht sailing from Seattle to San Francisco. The narrator, Marc Mulberry, is a middle-aged writer who’s seen far more success than he likely deserves. His travel companions are a collection of the publishing world’s most heralded and well-known talents. These characters include a maven of Manhattan chick-lit (think Candace Bushnell), a prolific if not repetitive profiler of Cold War inspired military dreck (reminiscent of Tom Clancy), and a tempestuous fair-skinned poet who suddenly ends her longtime affair with Marc Mulberry just as the ship sets sail. Things become all the more complex when the husband of Marc’s former mistress confronts him about the affair. When one of the writers is found dead the true ambitions of everyone onboard the yacht are revealed.

“It’s fascinating to study people who are part of a group who’ve separated themselves from the rest of the world,” Davis explains. “The publishing industry is very much that kind of an industry. All the more interesting is how the gods of the publishing world are not necessarily household names so we’re dealing with a kind of fame that exists only inside the microcosm of publishing.”

The lampooning extended all the way to the book’s promotional trailer. In it, Davis plays an over-the-top version of himself who berates the book trailer’s film crew and reluctantly sips Crown Royal from a straw between takes. In explaining why he chose to make a parody of a book trailer, Davis says, “It was just too tempting not to do. I had just published a book that made fun of other authors. I thought I could be a good sport and make fun of myself.”

After the book was accepted for publication by French Press, Davis was compelled to turn the book’s main character, Marc Mulberry, in to the subject of a series of books. “Marc Mulberry's world was just too rich not to continue to cultivate,” Davis says. “And shedding a little light on the absurdities of the publishing world is just too much fun.” Davis is currently at work on “Murder At Mulberry Manor,” a book he says will pay homage to mystery writer Agatha Christie with a humorous and good-natured twist.

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