IT’S A WRAP
Not only is 2007 coming to an end but I just put the wraps on my latest novel, PATIENT ZERO. I feel pretty darn good about both endings.
The year was a turbulent one, with extreme highs and lows. Friends and relations passed on while new friendships were made. There were significant changes in my business affairs, including making an exciting three-book deal with a new publisher. My first novel, GHOST ROAD BLUES, won the Bram Stoker Award for best first novel and was a serious contender for Novel of the Year (some guy named Stephen King walked off with that one). And all sorts of other stuff happened. On balance, now that the year is just about over, I think I can put 2007 as a whole in the ‘plus’ column. The bad stuff…well, who the hell wants to hold on to negative memories? Besides, I was once described as ‘annoyingly optimistic’ –a comment that was intended as a slight but which, in keeping with my nature, I took as a compliment.
Wrapping the book was one of the biggest events. It marks a transition point in my career, perhaps one of the two biggest transition points of my entire career. For nearly thirty years I’ve been selling my writing. I started back in college with article sales to Black Belt and other martial arts magazines, and over the last few decades nearly all of my writing energies have been directed to nonfiction. Over 1100 articles, twenty nonfiction books, thousands of column entries, video scripts, package inserts, etc. I dabbled some in fiction by writing a couple of plays which were modestly produced (TALES FROM THE FIRE ZONE was the most successful), and sold a couple of short stories back in the late 80s/early 90s. But at the time fiction wasn’t a compelling force within my creative make-up.
Then in 2004 I took a swipe at writing a novel that drew on the information I’d gathered from my research into supernatural folklore for the books VAMPIRE SLAYERS’ FIELD GUIDE TO THE UNDEAD and VAMPIRE UNIVERSE. I had no idea if long fiction was going to be either satisfying or successful, but I’ve always loved experimenting within the world of writing –wanting to learn the boundaries of my creative strengths and weaknesses. The book that came out of that experiment was GHOST ROAD BLUES.
That story turned out to be bigger than I’d originally thought and as I worked through the early drafts it became clear that I was writing a horror trilogy –something that you generally don’t see in that genre. The second book, DEAD MAN’S SONG, came out in July and the final installment, BAD MOON RISING is set for release on May 8, 2008.
The next story I cooked up, however, was not exactly horror. I had the idea for a counter-terrorism novel in which a disease pathogen caused symptoms that closely resembled those of the zombies in flicks like Night of the Living Dead. Not a supernatural story, and not quite SF. More like the thrillers of Michael Crichton and James Rollins. A science thriller.
When my agent pitched the book it was variously seen as a zombie book (which it really isn’t, although I can’t imagine zombie fans not being satisfied by the amount of zombie-themed action in it) or a bio-terrorism novel (which is, technically, is). Either way I’m happy because it was a damn fun book to write.
I got to create a new set of characters and character development is one of my favorite parts of writing (along with intense action and dialogue). I wanted to create characters that I liked and cared about. The book is intended to launch a series of thrillers in which the hero, Joe Ledger, and his colleagues in the DMS (Department of Military Sciences) continually confront warped science in the form of threats to national or global security.
I finished the polished draft on December 27. Yesterday. I printed out a couple of copies and mailed it off to my editor, Michael Homler of St. Martin’s Press, today.
About one minute after I finish this blog I’m going to launch into writing the sequel, THE KING OF PLAGUES.
It’s a great way to end a year, and a great way to start a new one.
I love the writing life!