Author Dennis Lehane is giving readers another chance to pop up in his next book—and this time it doesn’t involve trying to find his family’s missing dog.
The author shared a link on his Facebook fan page this week seeking bids in exchange for an appearance as a character in his upcoming 1940’s-centric novel, World Gone By. The book, which has a tentative release date of March 2015, is believed to be the third installment in a series of historical novels. It follows behind The Given Day, about the Boston Police strike in 1919, and Live by Night, which tracks the rum trade from Cuba to Florida during Prohibition, under the watchful eyes of rival gangs. All three books are based around various members of the Coughlin family.
To appear in World Gone By, it will take a thick wallet. Lehane is asking fans to throw down some serious money for the opportunity to have their name etched into what will likely be a bestselling book (if his previous two novels are any indication). As of Tuesday, the highest bid was set at $1,350. Only three people have placed bids so far, and the contest ends on April 30.
Andy Malis, an avid reader from Maryland with a desire to live forever in print, is in the lead. “It’s just a weird thing with me. I’ll never write a book—but I guess it’s a way to be immortal,” said Malis in an email. “Dennis Lehane is a great writer and it’s a good cause.”
As Malis noted, money raised through the auction isn’t merely for Lehane and the winner’s benefit. Funds generated from the highest bidder will go toward the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation, which was set up in memory of the 8-year-old Dorchester boy killed in the April 15, 2013 Marathon bombings.
It should also be noted that there’s something in a name. In the “fine print” section of the auction page, which is being hosted by CharityBuzz.com, the auctioneers say that if the winning bidders name doesn’t fit the mold of a 1940’s novel, then Lehane can reserve the right to keep them out of World Gone By, and save their name for his later work. “If [name] doesn’t [work], then it will go in the book that comes after that, which will be set in the present day,” according to the details of the bidding process.
This isn’t the first time the Dorchester native has offered to place someone from his fanbase into a future plot line. In December 2013, Lehane’s family dog, a beagle named Tessa, ran away from their Brookline home. As the months-long search continued, Lehane tried to get more people out on the streets to find Tessa, and promised that whoever brought the dog home would have a guaranteed cameo in an upcoming work of fiction. Sadly, Tessa was never found.
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