A Letter from Robert McCammon


McCammon's update letter from November 9, 2010

On November 9, 2010, Robert McCammon wrote this piece for the website.


Some Thoughts On The Wolf's Hour

Hi, all. November is upon us. Also upon us, and something I've been very excited about for a number of months, is the beautiful edition of The Wolf's Hour from Subterranean Press, which I consider to be the Ultimate Edition of that work. I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about that book, if I may.

Where did the idea come from? I've thought about that and I can't really answer it. I do know I'm very interested in World War II history, and also the "lore" and "allure" of secret agents. You may not know that I tried to put myself in the running several years ago to pick up the James Bond series when the publisher was casting about for a writer. I didn't get the spot, and I guess I'm glad I didn't because my work has evolved in another direction, but I always thought I could do a "bang-up job"—British lingo there—putting across an action-oriented secret agent novel.

So I decided to think about doing a different kind of secret agent, and using of course my interest in World War II and general weirdness. What could possibly make my hero different? I wondered.

Then I had the Ah, ha moment. Eureka, as they say.

But if he's going to be that, I decided, it has to be believeable all the way. It has to be made real. It can't just be dropped in like a gimmick. There has to be a backstory and a wealth of personal history—and tragedy—and if this unreal hero is to become real he must first and foremost be made human.

Now, the fun part about putting this hero together is that I knew there would be a lot of action. If you know what I mean?

Usually I don't get to write scenes like that. If you read the new novelette "The Room At The Bottom of The Stairs," you will see that I decided to go for the gold in terms of the bedroom scenes. Someone mentioned to me after reading those scenes that they were "very earthy."

Well, yeah. I don't get a lot of opportunities to write "very earthy," so in this case I thought...go for it, all the way.

They actually may have said "very dirty," but I heard "very earthy." Same difference. I guess?

I realized when I was writing The Wolf's Hour that it was going to be a long book, but I didn't realize until looking back and re-reading this Ultimate Edition how fully-packed the thing is. I mean, it is intense. I think every possible situation one could throw at a hero, whether he is merely human or more than human, is in this book.

The action scenes were great fun to write. I do mean, here, the physical action. You know. The fighting scenes. Okay? Well, they were fun to write. But I never wanted my hero's life-condition to be a gimmick, something that is used when the pace falters or the story runs out of steam or you just need a good jolt to throw at the reader. No, his situation had to be honest, as much as I could make it.

It had to be depicted as a life lived in both great joy and deep sadness, because for all my hero's abundant strength and speed and animal passion, he also walks alone. He must pay the price for what he is, and though the decision to be what he has become was not his to make...there is still the price to be paid, and so this becomes more than a story about a secret agent in World War II who is a lycanthrope. It is also the story of an innocent boy who set out to catch a kite and became a solitary traveller through a dangerous world.

I am very proud of The Wolf's Hour. It appears that this is another of my books that, thankfully, is growing in stature with the passage of time. I have been asked many times if I would ever consider doing a sequel. Again, there are so many events packed into this book that I might have a hard time writing a book-length sequel. But after writing the shorter piece "The Room At The Bottom of The Stairs," I started thinking... hmmmm, well, maybe I could do a sequel of sorts that was not really a sequel but that did continue my hero's story.

So...I sat down this summer and wrote what has become The Hunter From The Woods, a collection of short stories and novelettes starring Michael Gallatin. He gets to move around quite a bit, from a ragtag circus in Russia to fighter planes clashing over North Africa to a freighter in the fog of the North Atlantic and beyond. It was great fun for me to rouse Michael Gallatin to new adventures and...who knows what the future holds for him?

Thank you for your readership, as always, and I hope you enjoy the Ultimate Edition of The Wolf's Hour. I suppose you know the title is a takeoff on "The wolf is ours" and the idea of the eleventh hour, which was indeed "the wolf's hour" in the lore of several mythologies.

Happy November to you all, and good reading to you as well.

Best Wishes,
Robert McCammon

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