Tom Hanks debut novel fanfare the envy of new unknown authors

1 October 2022

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece, by Tom Hanks, book cover

American actor Tom Hanks has recently finished writing his debut novel The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece. Unsurprisingly the story is film related. And why not, writing about topics you’re familiar with is a great way to launch your literary career, is it not?

The story centers around the opening of a movie that is a “colossal, star-studded, multimillion-dollar superhero action film” and involves a timeline from the 1940s to the present day. According to the publisher, “Part One of this story takes place in 1947. A troubled soldier, returning from the war, meets his talented five-year-old nephew, leaves an indelible impression, and then disappears for twenty-three years.”

Seems to me like the novel blends a bit of Saving Private Ryan (for the soldier) with some Cloud Atlas (for the time travel), both being movies Hanks starred in.

Undoubtedly his debut novel will do well. Even if it turns out not to be all that good. After all, with the profile Hanks enjoys, what could possibly go wrong, at least in terms of sales? And think about all those A-List reviews the title will garner, giving sales another nudge. This is fanfare other, likely unknown, aspiring authors, would give their right arms to bask in.

But when it comes to profile, either you have it, or you don’t. A stack of debutant authors have had nothing like the prominence Hanks has, but have gone on to be successful writers. But unknown authors looking for some profile, be it by hook or crook, could ironically take a leaf from Hank’s role as Dermot Hoggins, in the aforementioned Cloud Atlas.

Here Hanks portrays the resentful writer of a book called Knuckle Sandwich, which was the subject of a poor review, written by a critic named Felix Finch. So bitter is Hoggins (beware spoilers follow) he throws Finch over the side of a tall building, at a literary event. Finch is killed instantly when he hits the ground.

Sales of Knuckle Sandwich subsequently surge, but by this stage Hoggins is behind bars. In another cruel twist of fate, Hoggins had signed over all royalties from the novel to his publisher, so in the end doesn’t see a penny. Perhaps he hoped to profit from the sales of a follow up title he wrote while incarcerated.

For the rest of us though, I suggest slow and steady, with no one getting hurt, wins the race when it comes to making it as an unknown author.


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