Best Brain (2011)

Justin Cronin

Justin Cronin's bestselling novel The Passage was released in paperback earlier this summer, winning the Rice University professor a new legion of fans. The book, inspired by his daughter's suggestion for a story about a girl who saves the world, earned Cronin some $5.5 million in film and domestic publishing rights — before it was even finished. Obviously he's über-talented, but he's also über-smart because, from day one of his whirlwind dance with big publishing, he understood the difference between literature, which is what he used to write, and popular fiction, which is what he's writing now: one is appreciated, the other is sold.

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