Can books keep up in the age of streaming — and do they even need to?
Author Paullina Simons will find out when she releases three books in quick succession this year, turning traditional publishing on its head, and giving the binging generation their own novel answer to Netflix.
The famed author of The Bronze Horseman and Tully was so inspired writing her new End of Forever saga, that the trilogy will be released in the next seven months so fans don’t have to wait with bated breath for the closure her books demand.
Simons has always weaved her dozen groundbreaking novels around the human emotions of love, loss and heartbreak.
But it was when the 56-year-old Russian-born author lost her grandfather, mother-in-law, grandmother, mother, father and then her brother-in-law in quick succession, that she understood the true meaning of grief.
Of loss so great, that there is nothing else. A devastation you truly can’t understand, can’t imagine, until you feel it yourself.
“It was very painful to lose them,” Simons said from her New Jersey office, where she spent 12 hours a day for the last four years, writing the three books. They series starts with The Tiger Catcher — the moving story of a man who will do anything for true love and anything to get it back — moves on to A Beggar’s Kingdom and ends with Inexpressible Island.
“When people are that close to you, they are a part of your past, a part of you, a part of your identity, your childhood, everything how you define yourself is from the people you grow up with.
“Losing them was tremendous.
“I wrote Tully a long time ago — that had a profound loss, a profound death that affected everything, but when I wrote it, I didn’t know what death was.
“I hadn’t experienced grief yet.
“I imagined what it was like, but I didn’t know.
“And then I knew.”
Inspired by her reality of immense loss, The Tiger Catcher shares the journey of Julian, whose charmed Los Angeles life is turned upside down when he meets Josephine, a mysterious young woman with whom he has a life-changing love affair. Julian is then forced to make impossible choices to survive losing her — over and over again.
“I started writing these in 2014, so I’ve been thinking about the story and writing it for a number of years,” Simons continued.
“I really fell in love with Julian and his desperate, life long permanent, unconditional love for Josephine — it was the combination of wanting to write a story about this great love set in the modern world, and how that love dealt with profound loss, because that’s what I had been dealing with at the time.
“What if there was a way to undo this thing that really can not be undone … you go over and over the details in your mind, what we would have done differently, what we would have done in different circumstances … and suddenly there was a book in it — or three books,” she laughed.
“We live our life forward, not backward.
“It would be so convenient if we could act on our 2020 vision and we knew ahead of time all the mistakes we would make — we just have to do our best, right now, and hope it works out.
“And that’s what Julian does — and literally there is nothing he won’t do to get her back.”
When Simons’ saga became too big for one book, and in fact too big for two, her trilogy was born. And because she had written it all in one go, fans don’t have to wait years for the next instalment. She’s given them the publishing industry’s first answer to binge-worthy entertainment, Netflix-style.
“It’s quite unusual,” she said.
“Think about how painful it was to wait the last two years for the last season of Game of Thrones, right?
“We don’t really read books like we watch Netflix — we are binge watchers — when the season is over we want the next thing, right now.
“The fact I can bring this to everyone like a television series is so exciting.
“It’s scary, but it’s exciting too.
Simons’ HarperCollins Australia publisher, Anna Valdinger, said she was thrilled to release all three novels so close together, something that had never been done in mainstream publishing.
“What I’m really excited about is that fans don’t have to wait as long as they usually do between drinks,” she said.
“The idea was that she would write one book, but the story expanded so much that it turned into a much bigger story than she had pictured.
“She had three books already written, so now we can publish them so close together
“It’s certainly not common … we originally thought we would release one a year and then we realised we didn’t have to.
“In this era of binging and consuming something straight away — I know what Paullina’s fans are like, and they will want to devour these books.
“It felt mean to make them wait when they didn’t have to.”
Published by HarperCollins Australia, The Tiger Catcher is available at all good bookshops for $32.99.
CATCH A TIGER BY THE TALE
The first in Paullina’s new series, The Tiger Catcher, is our Book of the Month for May – which means readers get if for 30 per cent off by going to Booktopia and using the code NCBT19. And remember to come talk tigers and more at the Sunday Book Club group on Facebook.
CHANGING THE GAME IN POP CULTURE
Releasing three books in quick succession is not the first groundbreaking moment in pop publication, nor will it be the last. Here are few other moments that changed how we watch, read and listen.
— On June 19, 1939, Robert de Graff launched Pocket Books, the first American mass market paperback line, transforming the publishing industry by allowing books to be sold at a hundred thousand drug stores, cigar shops and train and bus stations — instead of just the country’s 2800 bookstores at the time.
— The seven Harry Potter books were released over a decade, selling more than 500 million copies worldwide, with the last instalment selling 11 million copies in the US within 24 hours of its release.
— The first movie to be released on DVD was Twister in 1997.
— Netflix was launched on April 14, 1998, as the world first online DVD rental store with a monthly subscription. Its first original release was the successful House of Cards series in 2013.
— On June 24, 1993, hobby band Severe Tire Damage were the first in the world to stream their concert online
— In the year 2000, Marillion were the first band to use crowd funding, when fans paid months in advance for their album, Anoraknophobia. Fans also paid for the Brit rockers to do a US tour by agreeing to stump up the funds in advance.