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
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
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.