The Papillon of publishing
What was the role played by James Finkenstaedt, the Papillon of publishing?
Roderick d'Entrac : My mentor for years was James Finkenstaedt, the late former vice-president of US publisher William Morrow who bought the rights to Papillon when it was an unknown manuscript.
Jim had nurtured big names in thriller writing. He thought that the outline idea for Paris Night was powerful, though probably too risky for French publishers at that time. He remained confident that there would always be readers wanting such thrillers which also inform, engage and challenge.
He felt that as a British journalist and author, living in France for many years, I had the skills and sources to write Paris Night. He encouraged along these lines: “I don’t think anyone has written a thriller like this about the special French cocktail of corruption, scandals, and sex at the court of the presidential monarchy in the Elysée. ‘The Day of the Jackal” by Forsyth turned on the climate of a coup d’état and attempted assassination in the 1960s’.”
With Jim’s advice and guidance, I finished the main draft of the book before he died. He read the manuscript and wanted to see the book in print. Readers may realise that he also plays another role!
Then, first I would like to pay tribute to my wife and family who accompanied me during the years of work on Paris Night while I had a day job: work in the evenings, at weekends and during holidays.
I received valuable input – “don’t change a word”-- from Jim's late son, a senior journalist on the Boston Globe. I must express thanks also for unstinting professional help and guidance from historian and film-maker 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.