NEW YORK, NY – OCTOBER 21: Author Robert R. McCammon attends PBS’ The Great American Read Grand Finale at Masonic Hall on October 21, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/Getty Images)
I’m writing this a few nights before Halloween, and I thought about titling it “Awesome,” because I’ve been using that word quite a bit lately.
The first “Awesome” I have to talk about is my experience at the finale of The Great American Read in New York City. If you don’t already know about the GAR, it was sponsored by Public Broadcasting and put a spotlight on what they considered to be the 100 best-loved books in America. To my surprise, I found out a couple of months ago that Swan Song was among them, and you could’ve knocked me out with a gnat’s wing…or, keeping to the season…a bat’s wing.
I was asked by PBS to be a presenter at the finale of The Great American Read, and again I will use that word “Awesome,” because it really was. I got to meet the authors Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club), William Paul Young (The Shack), Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), and to meet again the charming and wonderful Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series. Coming in at Number One on the list was To Kill A Mockingbird, and at Number Two was the Outlander series, which makes Diana the most living author of a best-loved book, in this case series of books. Go, Diana!
Among the mind-boggling list of authors whose books were included in this show were Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, John Irving, Ayn Rand, Stephen King, Alice Walker, F. Scott Fitzgerald…I mean, really…the heavy, heavy hitters of the world of books and ideas. Wow, what a group to be included in! I’m still lit up. It was simply a great night. Meredith Vieira was the MC, was funny and personable, and put everyone at ease. The crew was also excellent, from the camera guys to the lighting experts and the production staff…and it was really cool to see what goes on behind the scenes at an event like this. These guys spared no expense to put together a first-class show that was a terrific benefit to writers, readers and really to the whole publishing business. My agent, Cameron McClure, met me at the show, and afterward there was a reception at a nearby Italian restaurant… again…Awesome!
The “capper” to this night was that after everything had quietened down I decided to go get a drink and have dinner at my hotel. At the bar I asked the bartender to make a drink I had created I called the “Palomino,” because it’s beautifully gold-colored and has a little white froth at the top like a “mane”.
This is how it went.
Me: “Whiskey, and do you have apple juice?”
Bartender: “I have apple cider.”
Me: “Better yet. Do you have sour mix?”
Bartender: “I make my own.”
Me: “Great! Well, shake with ice and pour over ice.”
Okay, so after I finished the drink, the bartender said he’d put it on my dinner bill. When I got the bill, the drink wasn’t on there, and I asked the waiter to check with the bartender to remind him to add the drink to the bill.
The waiter comes back.
Waiter: “He says he likes the drink so much he’s adding it to his repertoire, so there’s no charge.”
Cardinal Black is on the horizon. Late January is when the Cardinal slides (squims? oozes?) into view. That’s number Seven in Matthew’s story, with two more books to go. I’m working on Number Eight now, titled The King Of Shadows.
I’m doing a fun author’s photograph for Cardinal Black, using the Awesome talents of an Alabama-based photographer named Amanda Chapman. If you get a chance, Google her name, and take a look at her work, in particular her spectacular makeups. A couple of years ago, she did a series of pictures titled “The Thirty-One Days Of Halloween,” in which she created a different makeup for every day. This is beyond awesome! I am super excited about employing her magic to do a creative and interesting (and fun, of course) author’s photo, and that will happen here very soon.
Also very soon on the website will be a new Matthew short story titled “The Pale Pipesmoker,” featuring Katherine Herrald and Minx Cutter. I’ve found that the really cool thing about Matthew’s world is that I can use any number of characters to tell an interesting story and it doesn’t necessarily have to “star” Matthew. If you recall a story I did featuring Minx and a strange piece of jewelry that allowed one a glimpse of the future, I think you’ll know what I mean.
Now…another thing…is that I’m doing a music video to be put on the website and also on YouTube. Yes. I am. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while, and I finally decided to go for it. I did the music at home and went into a recording studio to do the vocals. We’ll be filming in the next couple of weeks, and hopefully the video will be up sometime toward the end of November. Fingers crossed!
A few more words about Cardinal Black…this one puts Matthew in a position where it seems impossible to escape a gruesome death, but the fun is in getting him out of such situations. I’m sure he appreciates it as well! But a character who has been in just about every book does meet a gruesome end, and that’s about all I can say about this person, but there’s a purpose to the demise.
I hope you enjoy Matthew’s continuing adventures in Cardinal Black, and again I want to thank you loyal readers who have taken Matthew and his world to heart and look forward to, at least for a while, entering the time machine that these books represent. Without your support there would be no Matthew, and without your support there would have been no Swan Song on the list of 100 Best-Loved Books at The Great American Read. In fact without the support of loyal readers, no matter what interest or genre, there would have been no Great American Read at all. I thank you for your love of reading, and I will end with only three more words.
You are awesome!