Aug 202013


Hello, all! I hope life has been good to everyone and your reading has also been rewarding. Ah, the pleasures of a book! I know e-readers are becoming more and more popular, and that’s well and good, but still…you just can’t capture the smell of a book with an e-reader! I realize this sounds funny, but when I was a kid I bought the novelization of “The Brides of Dracula” through the mail and when it arrived it smelled as if someone had doused the book in a strange, potent and very appealing perfume that I can recall to this day.

Likewise, when I was a kid on vacation in Florida one summer the motel we were staying at actually had a vending machine (!!!) from which you could buy paperbacks. I started buying the Nick Carter series there and found they too had an appealing, almost gunmetal-like aroma. My copies of the Hardy Boys series smell like oatmeal and high school letter jackets, wool and leather. My copy of the 10,000 Drinks recipe book smells like the newly-polished sheen of an upscale bar somewhere amid the twinkling lights of Manhattan. My copy of Cowboys Full, The Story of Poker, smells like the green felt of a gaming table.

Imagination? Possibly so, but this is what I get from books as well as the reading experience. E-books are grand and great, but…I just like the aroma that comes out of that paper, and that’s just me.

My own books smell to me like blood, sweat and tears. Ha. Not really. Well…kinda not.

This is a roundabout way of talking about the book I’m working on now, and…no…it is not going to be done in Smell-O-Type. (Though when I was about twelve I did go see a movie that was in Smell-O-Vision. The first scene showed a man peeling an orange, and you could smell the orange. Honest. Following scenes included, as I recall, a Chinese market in which you could smell the smoke of cooking fires. Really. How that was done I have no idea, but it was a pretty cool thing that had absolutely no future.)

Anyway…I’ve been smelling a lot of books lately. Particularly vital to my olfactory system are the old science-fiction magazines I’m reading right now. They have the titles of Amazing, Fantastic, Galaxy, Worlds of If, Analog and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I have quite a collection of these, dating back to the 50s, and also some pulp magazines dating back to the 30s. Science fiction was my first love—the rocketships, the strange aliens and the stranger worlds, the stories of mankind dealing with life in the future and all that those visionary writers could imagine. What appealed to me about the first science fiction story I ever read, called “Descent Into The Maelstrom”, was that I simply could not understand it. It was a tale of telepaths communicating with each other, and their communicated sentences had asterisks instead of quotation marks. That caused me to start thinking “outside the box”, I guess.

Well, mine is an old story…when I went to college my grandmother threw out all my science fiction magazines along with my Batman comic collection. When I found out what she’d done, I hit her over the head with an axe and buried her body in the basement, but please don’t tell anyone about that.

So…jump forward quite a few years to when I discover Ebay and find that ALL my old science fiction buds are waiting for me to reclaim them. Not so the Batman comics…the ones from the 1950s are now more than worth their weight in gold, so out of spite I dug up my grandmother’s bones and fed them to the furnace.

Ahem. (Or should that be Amen?)

But I have all those science fiction magazines—and more—back again. Which brings me to the fact that I am working on a science fiction/horror novel that I began last year but had to put aside because I was not ready to do it yet.

This does happen. You think you’re ready, but you’re not. You need to put some more pieces together, you need a character to introduce himself or herself and take charge of the show, you need some kind of revelation to make the light bulb burn. I didn’t have it then, but I think—I hope—I have it now. I can’t say the title—you might know it already, I think I’ve probably talked about it before—because the title gives away part of the story, but I’m ready to go where my first literary heroes went—into the realm of mind-stretching fiction that strides among the stars, between worlds of if and fantastic amazing galaxies and puts our own beloved Earth in jeopardy of being torn to pieces.

What will that book smell like, you might ask?

I hope it will smell like the fire of imagination, the same fire of imagination that began my own burning and yearning many years ago. I have a ways to go on this one, but if it’s what I want it to be I think it’ll be pretty good.

So…rockets away! And wish me a good trip and a happy landing! In the meantime, you’ll have the next Matthew Corbett book, The River of Souls, in which Matthew joins a mob pursuing a murder suspect up a haunted river into a dangerous swamp, where something more dangerous begins to pursue the mob. Ya got alligators, snakes, quicksand…and the reappearance of three characters from Matthew’s past. I hope you enjoy this one.

From the past to the present and into the future…

Once again, as always, thank you for reading my work and thank you for your Facebook comments. Happy reading to you…and please, if you have a chance, take a moment to relax and smell the pages.

Best Wishes,

Robert McCammon



  15 Responses to “Robert McCammon: Rockets Away!”

  1. I love sci-fi, so this is exciting as hell to me. Bring it on!

    • Rick, I totally understand your book smelling comment. I have often referred to bookstores as my “church”. The smell of books, especially NEW books, is my happy smell. Especially, when mixed with the smell of COFFEE. When I am starting a new tale, I run my fingers over the embossing in a way that probably should be reserved for something else. I read the authors biography and dedication page, and reviews by other authors, all before reading a single page! When Ebooks came out I was distressed that future generations might never know what a physical book was, outside of libraries and museums. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, Ill continue my book ritual and be happy…..

  2. I completely understand! I’m the same with comic books and magazines. Ahhh… childhood! R.G.

  3. mr. mccammon, now I truly know why I like reading your books. not just for the stories, but the man behind them. keep writing, and THANX

  4. I’m looking forward to both of those books, Mr. McCammon! I can hardly wait!

  5. Interesting to know that your first love was science fiction. It was the same with me. I discovered horror almost by accident by reading a collection of short stories titled The Omnibus of Science Fiction. It contained almost as many horror stories as sci fi and I can still remember getting my pre-teen socks knocked off by a story called the Colour out of Space by some guy named HP Lovecraft. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    Oh, and yeah with me it was my mother throwing away all of my cards: football cards, baseball cards, Beatles cards, monster cards, you name it. But I still have my comic books, now bagged and boarded and stored in fireproof filing cabints. Truly pathetic for a 57 year old man and hey! who cares!?

  6. Just spent some time recovering from knee replacement surgery and Swan Song was my companion. It’s the fourth time I’ve read it and I never tire of once again meeting all the characters and following their lives. I always find some part that feels as if I’m reading it for the first time. Can’t wait for your new books…and the welcome scents they will bring.

  7. The smell of books is what keeps me in a library or book store for hours. It’s almost hypnotic! I can’t wait for River of Souls and hopefully, a continuation of “I Travel by Night”!

  8. Thank you Robert for the update. It was bittersweet hearing you discuss the smell of book pages that bring back memories. Bring back the time, people and places where authors take us. Last Thursday I came home to 30 fire fighters kicking my door down to put out what I later learned to be a basement fire. As my wife and I watch the quick footwork and vocal commands of the fire department, we lamented on what belongings we would lose to such a horrible event. Wedding photos, my Mac with hundreds of studio session files, new creations I was about to take into the studio, and various personal albums that have become my life soundtrack. My heirloom suitcase that was passed down and contained “THE” Jessie James’ fork,flask and snakeskin tie. (My great great uncle was his cook) My vinyl collection and lastly my Robert McCammon book collection. Most items spared by the fire were ruined by the water and smoke damage. As I walked through the charred remains with the Fire investigator, eyes burning and coughing I would stop every few steps and grab something of importance, pick it up, allow it to recall a memory and then set it back in its soot free footprint. I picked up a bag and in it placed two soaked external hard drives, Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” vinyl and walked over to my bookshelf. There they were… all of your smoke draped signed novels. I collected them and exit the house.
    So here I sit, “The Five” open in my hands ripe with the smell of smoke, burnt plastic and chemical foam fire retardant. Though the smell reminds me of my loss, your words still take me into the the venues, the van, and the restaurant. I still don’t know if my songs will make it off of that hard drive, but I do remember how the songs came into my life and what emotion they helped release. As in “The Five” I think the songs choose us, and just as fast as they’ve found us they can disappear. That is the beauty and burden of beeping the artist. I write this letter not in self sympathy but in gratitude towards your creative nature that has fueled so many of my songs. Though I smell smoke, my memories are taken back to a time before the burn. On the wings of a passing melody from my past, i hear a brand new song and through a perfectly descriptive sentence from one of your novels I am once again inspired to create anew. Thank You sir for sharing your talents and unknowingly teaching me that the art is within and it will not burn away but burn always.
    With much respect,
    Ryan “Beatz” Beck
    PS- heed my mistake, buy a fire proof safe. 🙂

  9. When is the release date of The River of Souls? Thankx

    • No date has been announced for The River of Souls, but the plan is late Spring/early Summer 2014.


  10. I’m just trying to figure out who the three people from Matthew’s past are. That’s going to drive me nuts for the next several months. Gee, thanks, Rick!

  11. No offense but are you channeling Honey-Boo-Boo? She had a smell-o-vision episode.
    I am a Librarian and I can warn you not to huff books from the public library.

  12. Oh yes, the smell and feel of a book, nothing can compare!! I am sure I catch a glimpse or two when the feeling overcomes me in the bookstore and I simply must caress the cover or fan the pages for a smell (you all know exactly what I mean so don’t say “what’s wrong with her”). I love to pass someone who is so engaged in their book that the world has disappeared for them. It makes me smile just knowing they are traveling someplace else, meeting new people and just the fact that they are READING. I find myself looking to see what they are reading to see if I’ve read it, who the author is, just to strike up a conversation because of the mutual love of books. Although e-readers have their place its just not the same, walking by someone reading on an e-reader at a glance you can’t tell what they are reading. However, I am happy to have one in the cases where that is the only way I can obtain books that I simply must own.
    Thank you Robert McCammon for sharing your wonderful, wonderful talent with us. I am collecting all your past work and can’t wait to read each and every one. I loved Boy’s Life and Mine, at times, made me stop breathing. I have to tell you that I am starting Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. I have had it in one of my many, many stacks of books for quite awhile but after reading your praises of it I knew it needed to be moved up on the “to read” list. If YOU loved it it HAS to be great! Oh to have more time!!! Thanks again……you’re the best – Michelle

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.