Getting paid to write your first novel is as rare as getting paid to sing in the shower, so first novel writers often have to hustle creatively for their keep. Take, for example, the financial adventures of Michael David Lukas (Brown undergrad, MFA from Maryland), who just published novel No. 1.
The Oracle of Stamboul is a magical foray into the late 19th-century Ottoman Empire, with 8-year-old Eleonora Cohen providing much of its whimsy and charm. Although the "Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Servant to the Holy Cities, Caliph of Islam, Commander of the Faithful, and Supreme Padishah of Various Realms, His Excellency Abdulhamid II" (whew) doesn't lag far behind in the charm department. And neither does the novel's author. Eleonora was conceived in Istanbul, Lukas explains, when he wandered into "a narrow dusty little store. In the back was a crystal bowl, and in it was a picture of this little girl with the most self-possessed, wise look in her eye. When we made eye contact, I knew that this was my protagonist and that my novel would be set in Istanbul."
Michael David Lukas generally goes by all three of his names because he doesn't want to be confused any longer with Michael Lucas, who is a hugely popular gay porn star. "I would Google myself," Lukas says, "and he would pop up first, even though our names are spelled differently. I couldn't get away from him." Lukas subsequently blogged for the Virginia Quarterly Review, writing that "a triumvirate of names gives the author a certain unassailability and gravitas." Perhaps, but I'd characterize Lukas more as someone who hovers lovingly over a story, whispering, "Enjoy!"