A Year Later: Brad Meltzer on The Book of Lies in Paperback

Meltzer on The Book of Lies Paperback

Last year, when Brad Meltzer's new novel The Book of Lies was first released, the writer was able to take his lifetime love of comic books and incorporate it into one of his best-selling mystery novels.

As The Book of Lies is officially released this week in paperback, Meltzer's passion for the story in the novel hasn't let up. "From a writing standpoint, I don't think I've ever written anything this honest, and for that alone, I'm so proud of the work here," the writer said.

The story in The Book of Lies is a modern day thriller based around two mysteries -- who killed Mitchell Siegel, father of young Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, and the missing murder weapon that Cain used to kill Abel.

"But as those who read the book know, The Book of Lies isn't about a mysterious object, or even who killed Jerry Siegel's dad," Meltzer said. "It's about storytelling -- the great stories that're shared with the world -- and especially the personal stories we tell ourselves."

While the writer may value all stories, comic book stories in particular hold a special place. Ever since picking up his first Justice League issue in 1978, Meltzer has been an avid fan of comics. And after establishing himself as a best-selling author of mystery thrillers, he got the chance to write the comic books he loves, now becoming a best-selling writer of titles like Green Arrow, Justice League and his upcoming Buffy the Vampire Slayer issues.

With Book of Lies, Meltzer took a chance meeting at a book-signing with Jerry Siegel's niece and turned it into a mystery thriller that focused on the comics he already loved.

"In an odd way, comics are a blind-spot for me. I just love them so much," the author said. "But I know everyone else doesn't love them like I do. So I was terrified about that [when writing Book of Lies]. My fear was I'd chase away half my audience and lose them in my obsessive quest to talk about how the world got Clark Kent. But as my editor told me when she read it, 'My favorite parts were the Superman parts.'"

Now, as the Book of Lies hits bookstores in paperback, the writer's publisher is hoping the paperback market likes the Superman parts too.

"The truth is, though, with the discounting at the big chains and Amazon, the price difference between hardback and paper isn't as much as it was. So the paperback market is shrinking like crazy," Meltzer said. "Still, as someone who could never afford paying 20 bucks for a hardback, I'd always prefer paying just a few bucks for the paperback.

"The only thing that changes in the actual book is we get to fix all the typos that readers catch. Plus, we added the Buffy ad in back. But otherwise, it's just a price and size difference," he said. [Editor's note - more on the Buffy ad later.]

One thing that Book of Lies readers will notice has changed is the cover.

"It came purely from the fear that in paperback, the cover for The Book of Lies looked a lot like the cover for The Book of Fate," Meltzer explained. "Plus, every 'dog' book did big numbers this year (I am not kidding you), so they said, 'How do you like this dog?' I wished I hated it. But I liked it. It had something spooky to it."

As for the story in Book of Lies, Meltzer said the reception has been good, and what's surprised him is how well the secret twist of the novel has held up.

"From a mystery/thriller perspective, I thought The First Counsel had the hardest mystery to guess the big bad. But lots guessed it. I thought Book of Lies was a somewhat easier one," he said, "but so many readers wrote that they couldn't believe they got it wrong (thereby guaranteeing myself about 500 posts that will now show up on my facebook page saying 'I guessed it, schmuckface!')."

Now that The Book of Lies has made it to paperback, Meltzer is working on his next comic book project -- the previously announced Buffy Season Eight issues #31-#35. And he's already got a novel in mind to follow Book of Lies, but this time he might distance himself from the story a little more.

"It's terrifying to follow up the most personal story you've ever done. But it's also, in a way, a bit more fun," he said. "I love Book of Lies for its honesty. But considering that honesty was based on the death of my Mom and my relationship with my Dad, I could use something that was, well...in less need of therapy. But the goal for the new novel is far bigger than anything I've tried before."

Check back tomorrow when we talk to Brad Meltzer more, this time finding out more about the status of the "Ordinary People Change the World" drive he initiated last summer to save the childhood home of Jerry Siegel where Superman was created.

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