Oct 292015

Hello all, and greetings of the (Halloween) season.

I wanted to take a few minutes to check in, which I haven’t done in awhile, and talk briefly about my last book, The Border, and some things that are coming up.

I decided a few years ago that I wanted to do an alien invasion novel, but I wanted it to be different from the ones that had come before. Usually, Earthlings are threatened by one alien species and have to fight back to survive, of course, but I wanted to go a little bigger than that so I chose to go the way of two alien civilizations fighting over the Earth (or rather, what they perceive is a tenuous border between their territories) and basically we Earthlings are reduced to insects to be exterminated, ignored or experimented upon.

There’s another angle to The Border, though. It’s really a political novel in disguise. This is why one alien civilization uses weapons that show red and the other weapons that show blue. Hey, I’m down on both political parties. I think the entire system is a mess. So in The Border you have two extremely powerful (but basically stupid, when you think about it) civilizations fighting back and forth a war that just continues to escalate, and caught in the middle are the “Gray Men” who have been contaminated by the poisons these red-and-bluers spout out into the atmosphere. Political lobbyists and extremists, anyone? Which leaves the “ordinary citizens,” the middle class if you will, fighting to survive against three power structures that seem hell-bent on destroying the entire system just for the sake of gaining more power.

Yep, I’m down on both parties, and I’m making no apologies about that. The Gorgons are “Smash And Grab,” and the Cyphers cannot be prevented from walking through any wall to get into the space a person thought was protected. Which are the Republicans and which are the Democrats? Easy enough to figure that out, just follow the colors.

Years ago I heard some political commentators talking about the conditions at the time, and one basically threw up his hands and with a “sheepish” grin said the only solution was to roll back time and start all over again.

I may be giving something away here to those who haven’t read The Border, but the guy was right. It’s the only way, and luckily fiction can do what reality can not.

So…forging, shambling or crawling ahead…

I believe Subterranean Press’s edition of Stinger is just out, which is another foray into science-fiction. The challenge of that one was setting it in a period of twenty-four hours, and I recall that when I got to the part where I needed to physically describe the interior of Stinger’s spaceship I drew a blank and really had to dig deep. I certainly didn’t want it to look like it was made up from an Earthling’s limited imagination…which it was, but that gave me some grief until I got it down on paper.

The second I Travel by Night, subtitled Last Train from Perdition, was finished last October (as I recall) and won’t be out until I believe next October or so. I recently got an inquiry from an interviewer asking why I work so slowly. Well…I do a book a year and usually more than that, but from Subterranean’s viewpoint it’s not a good thing to put out books that might compete with others, and so doing all the reprints of my earlier work that Sub Press has done interrupts the flow of my newer work. I’m not complaining in the least, as I’m very thankful Sub Press is doing such beautiful work on my older books and creating editions that will last, I’m just pointing out the reality of the situation. The reprints bump the newer work back, and this is why it may appear to some that I’m a slow writer. Really…I do a book a year, plus a novella or two, and that I think is a good enough pace.

Now, to the next Matthew book, which I finished in April.

I believe Freedom of the Mask is scheduled for the Spring. In it, Matthew becomes a pawn in a game between the golden-masked crime avenger Albion and Professor Fell, and he winds up unmasking a traitor in the professor’s midst and finding himself allied with Fell against a common enemy. There’s a lot going on in this one. For those interested, I turned in Freedom of the Mask at five hundred and forty-something pages.

I approach the Matthew series as what I would call “Colonial Gothic.” I tend to look at the books I do as movies for the mind, so my perception here is that I’m writing a series of movies made by Hammer Films. I always intended the Matthew series to become more macabre and off-the-wall as the books continued—not necessarily in a supernatural sense, but simply the creepiness of that candle-lit, dark-shadowed era and of twisted human nature in general. Also, I have great fun writing that series because I can play with language so freely, which I can’t do in more contemporary work. I think, for whatever reason, that writing about this era just suits me. Maybe it’s because I really did enjoy those old period-piece Hammer films and this is my way of carrying that forward.

Anyway, I’m putting together the next Matthew, titled Cardinal Black, and will be working on that next autumn. For now I’m researching and starting on a book called The Listener, which is set in New Orleans during the Great Depression and that’s about all I can say. I’ll also be finishing up the third I Travel by Night, subtitled The Bloody Badlands.

I’m toying with the idea of my summer project next year being an homage to the spaghetti western, a “double-feature” of two books in one. My daughter Skye and I have gotten on a spaghetti western kick and been watching some on YouTube, and as I’ve always liked the style of those (the good ones, not the bad and the ugly), I may give it a “shot.” Titles? Four Rode from Hell and They Call Him Mister Six. Six bullets in a revolver and six nails in a coffin, right?

Anyway, I’m titled up to the gills but I have to create the books to go with them!

Again, happy Halloween season and as always thank you for buying and reading my work. As I’ve expressed before, a writer is nothing without readers, and I consider myself blessed to be able to continue to work, to do the variety of books I choose to do, and hopefully continue to grow at my craft.

Until later, as Matthew might say, I remain your servant and malleable to your desires,
Robert McCammon


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