Maxwell and me

I have a Maxwell story. It's not about Ghislaine – may she sing beautifully before Bill Barr drops in to say goodbye – but about her father.

When I entered into my first book contract, I took the advice of some friends and signed, not with the big company in the field, which I'll call Bigco, but with a smaller company. The smaller outfit was owned by a guy, whom I'll call Guy, who had run Bigco for many years and had made Bigco very successful. Guy had moved on from Bigco. Guy and a shrewd partner (who was not much older than I) had just formed their own startup publishing company.

By the time I signed with the startup, Guy had a different partner, but it was all good. They were extremely nice to me. The new partner was also my editor, and she supported the heck out of what I was doing. 

Well, while I was still toiling away (and suffering from writer's block on and off, which is a real thing), Guy's company was taken over by the colorful British publishing tycoon, Robert Maxwell, who had also just acquired another publisher, Macmillan. Guy, whom I don't think I ever met in person, still had a nice boss gig, now with Maxwell Macmillan, and so at that point in time, Guy and I were both essentially working for Maxwell.

It didn't last long. Maxwell had gotten himself into a lot of financial trouble, to put it mildly, and Maxwell Macmillan was taken over by a large outfit, which I'll call Hugeco. Lo and behold, by this time Hugeco owned Bigco, too. And so my decision to avoid Bigco was voided indirectly by Maxwell's folly. My contract fell into the hands of Hugeco, of which Bigco was now a division.

You may know the rest of Maxwell's story. He mysteriously died while on his private yacht. They fished his body out of the Atlantic. The cause of death was listed as a heart attack and accidental drowning, I think. Not everybody believed it. He was quite a crook.

Anyway, that was it between me and Maxwell. A short while later, Hugeco fired me for being late with the book. I eventually finished it on my own, though, and as I knew they would, they took me back and published it, under a new contract. It's done well, at least by my standards. (Since then, Hugeco has been taken over by an Even Hugerco.)

But for one brief moment there, Ghislaine's father and I were in business together. Not that he ever knew I existed, of course. But there's your historical footnote for the day.

Meanwhile, the Ghislaine jokes continue to flood the internet, but I have a serious question. Her arrest and the firing of the U.S. attorney – on a scale of 1 to 10, how related do you think they were? A score of 1 means not related at all – a coincidence. A score of 10 means that the two events were closely related.


  1. What is your book about? Title? Where can I buy it?

    1. It is a technical tax book. It's for lawyers, accountants, judges, appraisers, and the IRS. Not designed for the general public.

    2. Write a crime thriller about corruption in Portland city government.


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