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Sideways author pens San Diego mystery novel

Posted at 5:00 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 22:36:49-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — UC San Diego alum Rex Pickett's novel Sideways became an Oscar-nominated film about a weekend of debauchery in the Santa Barbara wine country.

His new mystery, The Archivist, will hit much closer to home.

"Yes, it's a mystery and it's a tragic romance, but it is for me, a coming full circle and a coming home," Pickett said Friday inside his Del Mar condo.

Sideways was rejected 230 times before it was published in 2003. The next year, it was turned into a star-studded film nominated for five Oscars, including Best Picture.

"You have to be able to risk the rejections," Pickett said. "You have to risk it in order to maybe get lucky and have that success."

While Pickett's famous for Sideways, he's also written plays, screenplays and other novels.

In 2013, UC San Diego invited Pickett to archive his life and his work — down to his rejection letters. Pickett said he and an intern took 50 boxes to the UCSD Library, where the archivist organized and cataloged them. Later, she brought Pickett in to see the results of her work.

"She took me down into the stacks, this secure area, and showed me these beautiful documents, the Rex Pickett papers," Pickett said.

Pickett was so fascinated by archiving that it inspired The Archivist, released this week. Unlike Sideways, it's a whodunit about a 27-year-old archivist at a fictional version of UCSD called Regents University. The protagonist, Emily Snow, becomes an amateur sleuth who must piece together the murder of her predecessor. The novel takes readers to San Diego hot spots like La Jolla and Del Mar.

"I just was so moved by Kate and the special collections and archives and what had been done to my work," said Pickett. "But I had to find the story. I had to find the mystery."