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