Feb 222010

Hi everyone,

As always, thank you for your comments and questions and most of all for your readership. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a writer would be nothing without readers, and I gratefully appreciate the time and effort you spend on my behalf.

I wanted to answer a couple more questions this time out, but first I wanted to talk about some things I’ve seen remarked on: the first being that the time between Matthew Corbett books seems very long and the second being the idea that I get no “respect” from the publishing industry.

The story behind Mister Slaughter (there’s a story behind everything, isn’t there?) is that it was finished and turned into my then-agent in April of 2008. I wasn’t happy with the job of promotion that Pocket had done with Queen of Bedlam. I was balking at doing another book with Pocket, and I wanted an “upgrade” in terms of what the publishing house (Simon and Schuster) would do with Mister Slaughter. So my then-agent came back to me with the revelation that Scribner (part of the Simon and Schuster company) was going to publish Mister Slaughter in hardback, everything was in place for that to happen, but we had to wait for Susan Moldow, the head honcho (honchess?) at Scribner, to sign off on the deal. That wouldn’t happen, though, until September because Ms. Moldow would be away during the summer. But I was told not to worry about it, because the deal was a “slam dunk”.

Imagine what I felt like when I got a call from my then-agent in October of 2008 saying he didn’t know what had happened, but the deal had blown up and Scribner would not be publishing Mister Slaughter but I was welcome to go back to Pocket.

Still can’t figure out if it was a setup to get me to go back or if I was just plain lied to, but I fired my then-agent within a couple of weeks after that and went on the search for a new agent and, of course, a new publisher. That turned out in time to be Subterranean Press, based in Michigan.

I was pretty down about things, but I started writing The Five in February of 2009 and finished in October of 2009. That book is making the rounds of New York publishers. I’m hopeful for a quick result, but it might be months before the book is picked up by anyone. So right there is an example of how you can finish a book and it’ll be a year or two before it comes out.

I’ll begin The Providence Rider in March and intend to finish in October. But what I’m trying to say is, the long lag between books is not my doing. I want to get on a solid publication track. So what might appear to you as an excessive time between books is particularly frustrating to me. I’m trying to get the corporate horses to pick up their speed, and the nags won’t go. Sometimes they refuse to move at all.

As for Pocket, my hope was that they’d see the potential in the Matthew books and really go to work promoting them, but I think my horror work still gets in the way there. One problem is: where do they go on the shelves in a bookstore? My name is still in the horror section, but the Matthew books are more Historical Mystery. We all know Boy’s Life was not “horror”, and neither was Gone South, yet those two books are shelved in the horror section where booksellers (particularly the big box stores) recognize my name from my earlier works. That’s one reason I caution beginning writers to be very, very careful how they start out, because if you begin as a genre writer you’re going to find it a very hard, torturous journey to be able to do what a writer ought to feel free and be encouraged to do: write about any subject, in any timeframe, that appeals to the creative nature. But I think Pocket just couldn’t get a handle on the Matthew books, and I probably stayed at that particular party too long.

Now to the part about “respect”. Again, we’re talking about corporations. They respect money. Can you ask for respect from a building? From stones and bricks? You might, but you’re not going to get it.

I get the respect I need from you guys. I re-read something I wrote awhile back, the introduction to my short story collection Blue World. I was talking about fast cars, the idea of moving forward, and in it I kept coming back to the phrase “Trust me”, in regards to letting me take the wheel and steer the ride. That’s what I feel you do, in allowing me freedom of the creative nature. You do trust me, and right there is the best respect anyone could ask for.

I will tell you that I think The Five is the best book I’ve ever written. All-in-all the book is exactly what I hoped it would be. The Five is something I have needed to say for a long time, but it took me awhile to know how to say it.

I feel like there are great things ahead. I have ideas stacked up and ready to go. There are things I could tell you now that would make you jump with joy, if you’ve liked my work up to this point. All I can say is…trust me.

I hear you when you say the wait between Matthew’s stories is long, and I wanted you to know it’s a problem I’m actively trying to solve. I think Subterranean Press has done a fantastic job with Mister Slaughter, and I have no hesitation in saying I hope they will publish the rest of the series.

Okay…onward, then.

Denise Quinn and Mike Wilkerson (among others) have both asked about sequels to Swan Song and The Wolf’s Hour.

I’m thinking of (maybe) a sequel to The Wolf’s Hour, but I have so much on my plate yet to do that I want to keep on my schedule. Now, that’s not to say that if The Wolf’s Hour actually becomes a movie and does well that I wouldn’t really really give some thought to continuing the story, but…

My take on sequels is that they’re never going to be as good as the original book. Yet my intention is for you to actually want me to write a sequel. Does that make sense? If you want me to write a sequel, it means you enjoyed the book and the characters enough to want to keep going with them. That’s a very high compliment to a writer, but sometimes (I think particularly in the case of Swan Song) the story is told and if there’s any continuing story it should be written in the reader’s own imagination.

I don’t consider Matthew’s stories to be “sequels”, but rather one continuing book. His story is not finished yet, and won’t be until we get to the last book in the series. But everything else I’ve done, I kinda figure those stories are finished. Having said that, though, it’s really a good thing that you want me to write sequels because it’s an indication of how much you enjoyed the original work.

Hope that makes sense.

I know there’ve been some questions about the availability of e-books. Believe me, this is an area of chaos and confusion for the book industry. I find it very interesting that Amazon promoted the Kindle as being able to download current bestsellers within minutes of their pubdates, and then suddenly the publishers are saying they want four or five months leeway between the release of new books and the e-book version. So that’s why Amazon is plundering back-lists and the publishing companies are trying to grab hold of as many older titles as they can. It’s a complicated issue. Amazon wants to be able to set e-book prices and the publishing industry wants to be able to set e-book prices. Chaos and confusion, added to by the huge number of e-book readers on the market and soon to be on the market. I have enough chaos in my day-to-day, so like you guys all I can do is watch the circus parade go past and wonder who’ll be bringing up the rear with the brooms. No doubt it’ll be the writers.

Again, thank you so very much for your comments and I particularly appreciate that you’re reading and re-reading the older books. I hope you’ve enjoyed Mister Slaughter. I will say about The Providence Rider that not only do we leave New York in this book, we also leave the colonies. But—no fear!—we’ll return to the familiar trappings of Number Seven Stone Street ‘ere the tale is through.

See? I’m getting back into the colonial mode after the rock’n roll book!

Thanks for reading and for writing, and I’ll talk to you again a little further on.

Best Wishes,
Robert McCammon


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