Author Fred van Lente offers his advice to writers on

Author Fred van Lente has taken time out to answer questions on writing and marketing on

In July, Quirk Books will publish his debut novel Ten Dead Comedians – early Goodreads reviews describe it as “an entertaining homage to Agatha Christie…but with a cutting edge and a lot of hilarious happenings”.

He has written professionally for 11 years – his comics and graphic novels have earned him the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller lists, he has won several awards, and his work has been the basis for feature films.

I put two questions to Fred, which he very kindly took time to answer, with some honest advice for writers:

Angela wrote: Chicken/egg question re genre/subject matter: Was your initial inspiration the attraction of writing an entertaining homage to Agatha Christie – or the subject matter of the book ie writing about the world of stand ups (presumably dying on their feet)? 

Fred van Lente replies: Hey Angela, I think Quirk was initially looking for a genre mashup of the type they’ve had success with in the past like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. I know the publisher, Jason Rekulak, is a huge comedy fan and we had one scene in the book conceived exactly the same way without consulting each other — it involves a prop comic, trust me, you’ll know it when you see it. So like chicken/egg, it is nearly impossible to separate the two.

Angela wrote: So it seems as though, happily, your current publisher is your target reader! You seem to have a very good relationship, but how much would you change your work or adapt your style, if asked to do so, just to get your work published… if, for example, your publisher did not like that scene you agreed on? And how much should a writer change their work, if asked?
Fred van Lente replies: I wouldn’t, Angela — not at this stage of my career, at any rate. It’s one thing if you’re trying to get published for the first time. But at a certain point to survive in this business you have to trust your own instincts, or you’re just not going to get anywhere. If you try and overthink every submission I think that just leads to bad writing and in the long run that’s not good for anybody.  If Quirk hadn’t like my work, I would have just moved on to another job, and another book. That’s just what you have to do.

Thanks for asking, Angela!

You can read all the questions and answers on Thanks to Fred for taking the time to respond.


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