Bad News is Good News. Good News is No News.
I worked the phones and Internet as hard as I could to get media opportunities throughout the 2006 Tour de France. This sort of publicity is an integral part of my efforts to build my writing career. I give expert insight into cycling, and in return the media gives my books publicity. Win/win.
But the result this year was only a smattering of interviews, mostly from sources who have been happy with the job I've done for them in the past. Without Lance Armstrong in the race, the mainstream interest was significantly reduced.
So it was with a mixture of exhaustion and resignation that I gave up on my media chasing efforts as the Tour concluded. Another year gone by, another chance at my big break disintegrated. I long ago realized that succeeding as a novelist was going to be a far tougher job than I'd ever dreamed.
Yesterday morning I turned on my computer and looked through the days stories with no thought about capitalizing on them for book publicity. But the moment the bad news about Floyd became official, my phone started ringing off the hook. Interview requests flooded in so fast that I couldn't possibly handle them all. The non-story of the Tour de France was suddenly hotter than melting tar on a Pyraneean descent. How come? Because the news was bad. Whether we're comfortable admitting it or not, we humans are hard wired to watching disasters. I'm sure it has an ancient relationship to the survival instinct.
Suddenly I was talking to America about Floyd's troubles, while simultaneously collecting my thoughts on what they meant. Along the way readers pointed out to me that the parallels between my most recent novel, The Tour, and actual events, are only becoming more pronounced. I can only hope that Floyd Landis, like my protagonist Ben Barnes, has been wrongly accused. Either way, the stampede to convict is the same.
I really feel for the Floyd because protocol has been trampled in the rush to judgment. He went from the top of the world to the bottom in the turn of a pedal. I've tried to point out problems with this case, but I've been amazed at how bloodthirsty some people are. One radio personality told me that Floyd's request to be considered innocent until proven guilty was an unreasonable demand.
This is a guy's life we're talking about, folks. Landis is a remarkable man who has devoted everything to pursuit of a single goal. If he cheated in order to attain it he'll get the punishment he deserves. If he didn't, he redefined heroism with his ride and he's doing it again with his handling of this crisis. Let's not become so jaded that we won't allow ourselves to be elevated by an inspiring performance. Floyd deserves the opportunity to present his case.