Okay, just for a change up, let’s start off with good news and not a bunch of maudlin (but honest) thoughts about the condition of my cancer and state of my life. Of course, perhaps only other writers will actually care or understand the news with the same depth that I do. Or maybe they won’t give a shit either.
First off, after years of bitching about why France hasn’t bought the French rights to my recent crime novels, Gallimard Série Noire have. The good folks who have published the likes of Chandler, Hammett, and Jim Thompson since the 40s and 50s have picked up The Last Kind Words and The Last Whisper in the Dark. It’s always nice to get a bit of found cash, but in this case I’m even happier about joining the lineup of such literary heroes of mine. Never underestimate the power of nice surprises.
More hip news is that Dave Wilson of Crossroad Press is now not only doing e‑books but also limited trades and hardcovers, including my novel Nightjack. This is probably my weirdest dark fantasy since A Choir of Ill Children. For quite a while I thought no one would ever publish it, until Dave did an e‑version and now a print edition. Writers love all their babies, even their ugly ones.
Another bit of sweetness: for the first time in my career I actually hit a bestseller list. The Last Kind Words climbed its way to #113 of the USA Today list. I remember when this happened for my friend and literary hero Dick Laymon. It was such a celebratory time for him and his family and fans and friends. Midlist mugs rarely have cause to celebrate just holding their ground.
I’m reading a biography of one of my literary influences, Richard Brautigan, called Jubilee Hitchhiker, by William Hjortsberg (author of Falling Angel, turned into the cult favorite film Angel Heart). Brautigan seems to have been equal parts insecure and vainglorious. Me, I’m just insecure. It’s always been easier for me to spout off the negative aspects of being a writer, or just being alive. I’m trying to get over that. Apparently, I want to live really badly. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be going through yet another round of chemo. Since everything makes me nostalgic, it’s a good time to be reading Jubilee Hitchhiker. Brautigan was one of those early stylists that I read when I was sixteen, like Barth and Vonnegut. They helped jump-start me toward the blank page.
That wasn’t too maudlin, was it?
Other recent good news includes the release of a few different small press titles including The Walls of the Castle from Dark Regions, and What Makes You Die from Apex. Both are a return for me to the horror genre, with touches of crime and fantasy. I hope readers will enjoy these forays back to dark fantasy. I rarely write horror fiction anymore, but when I do, it always feels like a return to the first well. The water had started tasting bitter for a while there but now it’s clear and clean again. Including Nightjack, all three deal with the search for identity, and the nature of such, a theme that seems to preoccupy me as I slide towards fifty. It’s difficult to be growing old and still wonder who you want to be when you grow up. Especially if you might be dying.
But from what I can make of the situation, everyone in my age bracket feels much the same way.