Innovation Is Desperation Turned Inside Out, Or, World’s Fastest Novelist Tells All

April 2004
by Burt Levy

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The only reason my wife and I self-published my novel The Last Open Road was that it had already been rejected by just about every “real” fiction publisher in the country. A few of them liked it, but felt that mainstream readers wouldn’t be much interested in a coming-of-age story about a 19-year-old New Jersey gas station mechanic learning about work, life, and love during the era of open-road sports-car racing in the Eisenhower ‘50s.

I have to admit I’ve been kind of a car junkie all my life. I’ve raced cars, fixed cars, sold cars, written about cars, and even filled in as a Hollywood stunt driver when the movie The Blues Brothers was shooting in Chicago. I argued that there was a huge audience out there, filling the stands at all sorts of racetracks all over the country. But as one particularly rude and arrogant young New York publishing executive told me: “Those people don’t read. And, if they do read, they most certainly don’t read fiction!”

I wasn’t so sure. So my wife and I took a deep breath, got a second mortgage, formed our own company and published The Last Open Road in 1994. To say we had no idea what we were doing is putting it mildly. But we pushed ahead and persevered, and today The Last Open Road is in its fifth hardcover printing with more than 30,000 copies sold and has become a genuine cult classic on the motor-sports and collector car scen…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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