With his tongue firmly planted in his cheek, Kwei Quartey,  California physician and author of WIFE OF THE GODS, asks the question that has likely crossed the minds of every author currently writing mysteries and seeking a broad audience:

Why did the Steig Larsson books soar into the stratosphere?

I think more than a few who read and enjoyed the trilogy have asked themselves  much the same question – what was it about the books that garnered sales in the tens of millions? There are books that are better written and there are certainly books that don’t go into such extraneous detail.  So, why Larsson?

I read the trilogy.  Once I started a book I couldn’t put it down.  The characters are interesting,  the mystery is absorbing, and there is a message regarding violence against women.

I also read WIFE OF THE GODS and once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.  The main male character isn’t a journalist who can’t commit to a relationship.  He is a happily married father and a member of an elite police unit.  And as to violence against women, Lisbeth and the wives of the gods could sit down,  exchange stories, and form a support group.

Quartey has his own take on the Larsson phenomenon .  Enjoy THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE TERMITE’S HILL and then, please, rush to your library or local bookstore and pick up a copy of  WIFE OF THE GODS.  Then, sit back and enjoy.

Kwei Quartey writes:

Termite Hill

Having lived in Ghana where these insect-constructed architectural marvels are common, THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE TERMITE HILL struck me as a good title for my next book. The sequel could be “The Termite That Bit the Girl.”

No? Too much like the titles of the novels of a certain deceased Swedish novelist? Oh, but I thought that was the whole idea. I was hoping that since my novels are, like Larsson’s, set in an exotic locale (Ghana – that’s exotic, right?), if I titled my next few works along the lines of “the someone who did something to the something,” readers might pay attention and perhaps consider buying a few copies. I was also hoping I could persuade bookstore owners to put up a sign in the window to the effect that Non-Dragon-Tattoo-Fire-Hornet’s-Nest readers are welcome.

There are now basically two types of novels in the world: Stieg, and non-Stieg. Or Chosen, and non-Chosen. If you were a novel, it would be best to be the Stieg kind, and if Larsson were alive, we non-Stieg novelists would tell him just how much we are in awe of him. To have your only three books in first, second and third positions on practically every bestseller list and have everyone clamoring for the mysterious fourth novel, which is at some undisclosed location? Incredible and wonderful.

But indulge me, dear readers of fiction, as I try to persuade you that you might charitably buy some of the works by other novelists out there. For simplicity, let’s take my own novel as a case in point. Other authors should feel free to press their individual cases and stick up for their own books.

The top ten reasons to buy my book instead of, or along with, the amazing Stieg’s:

1. My story also has murdered people in it.

2. There’s a killer in it as well.

3. There are some nice, foreign-sounding place names in it, just like in Larsson’s books.

4. Because I’m still alive, I’ll actually be able make good use of the money and there won’t be a family feud over it either.

5. I won’t hide my next novel in my laptop. I will publish it.

6. Unlike a dead person, I’m available for book-signings and book club meetings.

7. My name has the same number of syllables as Stieg Larsson’s, and my hero’s name, Darko Dawson, has the same number as Larsson’s hero, Mikael Blomqvist’s, but it’s a lot easier to pronounce.

8. I’ve written two novels, so I’ll soon have a trilogy, sort of.

9. I can have a tough, tattooed young woman in the third novel, if you really insist.

And the last reason to buy my book along with the Stieg’s:

10. I write shorter paragraphs.

Isn’t there a No Author Left Behind federal program? Okay, I guess not, but I have another idea that might work. I borrowed it from the story of that Canaanite woman who outdid Jesus in a little verbal exchange when she pointed out to him that “even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Touché! So, here’s my idea: As one Millennium Trilogy buyer after another lines up to make his or her purchase in various bookstores, we non-Stieg authors could hover around checkout counters with irresistible, canine-like “poor me” looks on our faces. “Please, sir, madam,” we would beg, “can you spare a crumb?”

In a noble attempt to hearten me, a friend of mine quoted the aphorism, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” In other words, be patient: Larsson’s more than 20 million copies and more than 1 million Kindle books sold should bring us non-Stiegs right along. Well, I can only hope, but to stretch the maxim a bit, I worry that people on the shore may be gazing at just one boat and singing its praises while the other vessels bob around ignominiously, or worse, capsize and sink., are you listening? On Larsson’s page, I’d like to see these words: “Customers who bought this item also bought THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE TERMITE HILL.

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4 Responses to THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE TERMITE’S HILL – Kwei Quartey

  1. janebbooks says:

    What a novel post! Really enjoyed the ten reasons to buy my books instead of Stieg’s !


  2. Beth says:

    On June 30, I reviewed Kwei’s first book, WIFE OF THE GODS, and I also posted “Elsewhere” that has some information about the superstitions that allow the practice of trokosi to continue.

    WIFE OF THE GODS is a wonderful book. It has more than a few twists.

    Kwei has another book to be published in 2011.

    I thought the list was brilliant. I bet the only author who doesn’t share his sentiments are the authors who make millions using a template – read one book and you’ve read them all.

  3. Yrsa says:

    Great post – I will look out for your book and if you ever write “the girl who kicked the termite hill” I will certainly get that one as well. That has got to be the greatest title I have heard for ages.


  4. Beth says:

    Yrsa – I subscribe to Kwei’s blog where he had hidden THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE TERMITE HILL. I lifted it and put it on the blog because it was too funny not to share.

    It seems he is speaking for most authors today, no matter what the genre. I read the trilogy; I have seen the two movies released in the US. They aren’t the best written books I have read. I did read them straight through; I read your’s straight through as well.

    So why is everybody reading Larsson? The only thing that occurs to me is that they were such a phenomenon in Sweden that the rest of the world had to find out what they were missing. If five people are reading it on the train, five more people will have it the next day. By the end of the week everyone has it and then some people think they have to carry it around just so they can look like they are reading it and they are part of the in- crowd.

    This is where, I think, the Kindle is going to be a problem for authors. How are we to know what we should be reading when we can’t see the book covers? That’s going to a lot of lost free publicity.

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