Folsom, Allan 1941–
Folsom, Allan 1941–
PERSONAL: Born December 9, 1941, in Orlando, FL; son of Edwin W. and Ada (Ott) Folsom; married Karen Glick (an executive search consultant), 1979; children: one daughter. Education: Boston University, B.S., 1963. Hobbies and other interests: Skiing, traveling.
ADDRESSES: Home—Santa Barbara, CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Forge, 175 5th Ave., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Worked in Los Angeles, CA, as a delivery driver, film editor, and camera operator; author of television scripts, screenplays, and novels.
MEMBER: Writers Guild of American West.
AWARDS, HONORS: Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award in Screenwriting, 1963; Premio Internazionale Flaiano, per la narrativa, 1995; alumni award, Boston University, 1995.
The Day after Tomorrow (novel), Little, Brown
(Boston, MA), 1994. Day of Confession (novel), Little, Brown (Boston,
MA), 1998. The Exile (novel), Forge (New York, NY), 2004.
Author of television scripts for series, including Untamed World, 1968 and 1969; Hart to Hart, 1981 and 1982; and Sable, 1987. Also author of unproduced screenplays.
SIDELIGHTS: Author Allan Folsom was making headlines even before the publication of his first novel, The Day after Tomorrow. The book, a fast-paced and multi-plotted thriller, made history by garnering the biggest offer ever for the rights to a first novel. Made jointly by Little, Brown and Warner Books, the deal paid Folsom approximately two million dollars, with an additional half-million dollars to be paid when sales of the book reached 400,000 copies. In Publishers Weekly, Maureen O'Brien quoted agent Aaron M. Priest, who had sent copies of Folsom's manuscript to several publishers: "People were … calling in preemptive bids like crazy…. Initially I was prepared to accept a much, much smaller offer, but as the weekend progressed and these publishers began calling off the wall, tracking me down [on vacation] in Barbados, it became clear it was going to go for a great deal more."
Before his record-breaking book deal, Folsom had struggled to make a career for himself in Hollywood. He began as a delivery driver, then graduated to film editing and camera work; meanwhile, he worked on his own screenplays. He occasionally wrote for television series, including Hart to Hart. Folsom came close to fame when actress Natalie Wood agreed to take the lead role in a screenplay he had written about the life of poet Anne Sexton, whom he had known in Boston. However, following Wood's death in a boating accident, Folsom turned to other projects.
As Bob Sipchen reported in the Los Angeles Times, Folsom found inspiration for his novel during a trip to Paris in 1990. While he and his wife "sipped coffee and relished the street activity, an innocuous thought flickered languidly through Folsom's mind: 'What if someone walked by who was important in my life thirty years ago?'" Thus The Day after Tomorrow begins with its protagonist, American surgeon Paul Osborn, sitting in a French café. Suddenly, he realizes that a man sitting nearby is the man he saw murder his father many years before. Osborn embarks upon a mission to find out why the man did it and then kill him; along the way he becomes entangled in a series of grisly decapitation murders and an international neo-Nazi plot.
When The Day after Tomorrow was published in 1994, most reviewers thought the book lived up to its advance publicity. In Tribune Books, Chris Petrakos observed that the novel "seamlessly blends more plot-lines than some writers do in a half-dozen books," and hailed Folsom as "an enthusiastic storyteller with a talent for vivid characterization." Robert Ward, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, praised The Day after Tomorrow in glowing terms, comparing it to such books as The Manchurian Candidate, The First Deadly Sin, The Exorcist, and The Shining. Ward lauded Folsom's "particular brilliance" in marrying "the novel of revenge with the political thriller and grafted the whole thing seamlessly onto a brilliant updating of the Frankenstein story." The reviewer concluded: "I defy you to put it down."
In his next book, Day of Confession, Folsom pens a fictional thriller that involves the Vatican engaging in controversial efforts to establish an empire in China. After his brother, a Catholic priest named Daniel, is killed in a bus bombing, American lawyer Harry Addison becomes suspicious about the circumstances surrounding Daniel's fate. Reaching Rome to claim his brother's casket, Harry finds himself accused of murder and must discover the truth about Cardinal Umberto Palestrina's plans for China. Writing in the Library Journal, critic Rebecca House Stankowski described Day of Confession as a "whirlwind romp that crisscrosses the globe with intrigue." Booklist critic Gilbert Taylor predicted the "extravagantly theatrical" book will appeal to "legions of readers looking for pure distraction."
Folsom's third novel, The Exile, introduces Los Angeles detective John Barton, who was involved in a suspicious shootout of a known murderer that resulted in the murderer's death as well as the deaths of several police officers. In the aftermath, Barton changes his name and moves to Europe in an effort to gain a safe distance from the vengeful survivors of the horrible episode. While carving out a new life for himself in London, which includes romance with a high-born woman, gardening, and spearheading his sister's mental rehabilitation, he discovers that the murderer did not die in the shootout and is now pursuing Barton's trail. Furthermore, the murderer has an impeccable Russian lineage and nefarious credentials to go along with it. Though David Pitt, writing in Booklist, acknowledged the novel's more cinematic tendencies, he praised its suspense as well as its "sturdy hero" and "despicably clever villain." A writer for Kirkus Reviews enjoyed the novel's opening scenes but concluded that it was a "bloated international thriller." While Library Journal contributor Jeff Ayers called the story "farfetched," he nonetheless appreciated its "compelling narrative."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of Day of Confession, p. 1828; August, 2004, avid Pitt, review of The Exile, p. 1868.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2004, review of The Exile, p. 703.
Library Journal, September 1, 1998, Rebecca House Stankowski, review of Day of Confession, p. 213; August, 2004, Jeff Ayers, review of The Exile, p. 66.
Los Angeles Times, February 25, 1993, Bob Sipchen, "The Plot that Made a Wallet Thicken," pp. E1, E8. Los Angeles Times Book Review, April 10, 1994, Robert Ward, review of The Day after Tomorrow, pp. 1, 8.
New York Times, February 4, 1993, Esther B. Fein, "Writer Gets $2 Million for His First Book," p. C24.
New York Times Book Review, May 22, 1994, Newgate Callendar, review of The Day after Tomorrow, p. 36.
Publishers Weekly, February 8, 1993, Maureen O'Brien, "First Novelist Lands $2M from Warner and LB," p. 12; March 7, 1994, review of The Day after Tomorrow, pp. 46-47; August 3, 1998, review of Day of Confession, p. 72.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 17, 1994, Chris Petrakos, review of The Day after Tomorrow, p. 6.