The Papillon of publishing
What was the role played by James Finkenstaedt, the Papillon of publishing?
Roderick d'Entrac : My mentor for years, James Finkenstaedt, the late former vice president of US publisher William Morrow and the man who bought the rights to Papillon when it was an unknown manuscript, thought that the outline idea for Paris Night was powerful, though risky in the climate at that time. But he was always confident that I could make it work for readers wanting thrillers which also inform, engage and challenge. By coincidence of circumstance, it turns out that Paris Night helps to explain the news today.
William Morrow had nurtured and published many great authors and Jim had spent decades living in France, publishing top French chefs, following French affairs and successfully hunting down potential best-selling thrillers.
Jim also explained why he felt that I, as a British journalist and author, living in France for 35 years, was particularly well qualified to push on and publish Paris Night. He encouraged along these lines: “I don’t think anyone has written a novel like this exploring the context which favours this special French cocktail of corruption, the ‘affaires d’Etat’, the scandals which often put the state and even this monarchical presidential system in a bad light.”
With the help of his advice, I finished the main draft of the book before he died. He saw the manuscript and wanted to see the book in print. Readers may realise that he plays another role!
Then, first I would like to pay tribute to my wife who accompanied me during the years of work on Paris Night: work in the evenings, at weekends and during holidays.
I received valuable suggestions and support from Jim's late son, a former journalist on the Boston Globe. I must express thanks also for unstinting professional help and guidance from Simon Berthon who read two versions of the book, advised on plot and edited content. I am deeply grateful for his time and input; and equally to Richard Fernandes for suggestions, encouragement, comment and feedback from start to finish, and afterwards.