Just like Rodin, say, farmed out the sculpting of feet, Tom Clancy hired “co-writers” to pen a lot of his work.

One of those writers talks about his experience working with (for?) the recently departed bestseller.

“Sure!” I said, and gulped.

“Great. And one more thing. Book’s due in six weeks. Minimum length: 110,000 words. Though we can deal with 90,000. We’ll send you the series bible, do whatever you want with it.”

I hung up with my heart in my throat. It was the career opportunity of a lifetime. But it was also terrifying. Six weeks. Whatever happened to six months?

Many pots of coffee later, I made the deadline. “Politika” was delivered in October. In November it hit the stands. The initial print run of 1,000,000 copies was a sellout. It spent 10 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

100k words. Six weeks. And look at the editorial and production turnaround!