While marketing my debut novel, We Take Care of Our Own, I made a couple of unsettling discoveries. One, a novel with the exact same title as mine came out about five years ago. Two, a very successful author has the same name as me. (Or I have the same name as her, whatever.)
Jeff Rider’s We Take Care of Our Own was put out by the vanity publisher Austin Macauley Publishers in June 2016. The first time I learned about it was this past April, while checking Indiebound to see if my novel was available there. “What a surprise,” I thought, “neither pleasant nor unpleasant!” I was certain I had checked at least once various online booksellers to see if We Take Care of Our Own was a title that had been used before; the only thing that ever popped up was the late-period Bruce Springsteen song. Anyway, here is the synopsis for Jeff Rider’s We Take Care of Our Own:
With a roster of tangible and rich characters, Jeff Rider presents a tale of tragedy, comedy, suspense and intrigue in a New England setting. In We Take Care of Our Own, we learn of the everyday interplay between good and evil via an interwoven narration of an advertising executive and other Bostonians. Through the characters’ eyes, monumental historical events are touched on, such as the 9/11 attacks, the surge of the Internet, recent elections and the stock market collapse. Spanning from the nineties to the two thousands, champions and underdogs fight an archfiend bent on their downfall. We Take Care of Our Own is an enjoyable and fast flowing plot that is difficult to put down. With perfect doses of wit, ample examples of irony, delicate allusions of truth, and honest references to the socioeconomic factors of politics, Rider not only tells an intoxicating story of the good versus evil in the world; he also stabs the reader’s soul with deep questions and dilemmas with notions such as greed, love, revenge, charity and fear.
Sounds pretty good to me (if a little vague, and doesn’t that mention of “an archfiend bent on their downfall” kind of come out of nowhere?) so I bought a copy. After I receive it and read it, I will update this blog post to offer my thoughts.
I tried reaching out to Jeff Rider because I think it would be neat to introduce myself and point out that our books share a title. (I am a big believer in calling out coincidences—if you and I are at a party and it just so happens we’re wearing the same shirt, I will come up to you and point out the similarity.) Alas, the last blog post on his web site is seven years old, so I’m not sure if my messages were received.
At the same time, an author named Christina Clancy is kicking all sorts of ass, publishing-wise. Just the other day I was browsing Parnassus Books and came across her debut novel, The Second Home, which came out via St. Martin’s Press in June 2020. (And she evidently has a second novel, Shoulder Season, coming out next month!) As of this writing, The Second Home is rated four-and-a-half stars with 521 customer reviews on Amazon. There’s also a TV adaptation in the works.
This was not my first encounter with Christine Clancy’s work. Years and years ago I saw her name—she may have been going by Christi Clancy back then—among the contributing authors in Glimmer Train, the award-winning literary journal that could always be counted on to form-reject my stuff, and thought, “Why do I bother writing anything at all?”
But now, with a novel of my own under my belt (rated five stars with four customer reviews on Amazon, thank you very much), I reached out to Christina Clancy via her author page to remark on our similar names, congratulate her on her success dating back to Glimmer Train, mention that my debut novel had just come out, and feel her out on the prospect of our one day doing a two-person panel at some book conference somewhere, where we can talk about the ups and downs of being a fiction writer who answers to the name Chris Clancy. Will she bite? Stay tuned!
UPDATE: She bit! Well, not exactly. But it was very nice of her to get back to me. She thinks my two-person panel idea “would be hilarious.” What a sweetheart!
UPDATE: Amazon, the only online bookseller I could find who claimed to carry Jeff Rider’s WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN (2016) recently notified me, one month after I ordered it, that they could not locate a copy of the book and therefore were refunding my money. Bummer! Jeff, if you’re reading this, please get in touch with me.