Traditional Publishing
Self-Publishing
Share

The Writing Dead

nytimes.com – Friday September 21, 2018

The mystery novelist Reed Farrel Coleman was watching TV in May 2013 when his agent called and asked him, “How would you like to be Robert B. Parker?”

“It took me about a nanosecond to say yes,” Coleman wrote on his website. “We all dream about unexpected magical moments — chance encounters, phone calls, emails — that will transform us, but do we ever believe they will happen?”

These days, when a popular author dies, financially savvy heirs often commission someone to keep writing his or her books. (There’s even a term for this: “continuation literature.”) Sophie Hannah writes Agatha Christie novels; David Lagercrantz channels Stieg Larsson; Anthony Horowitz has taken on Ian Fleming. That’s what Robert B. Parker’s family decided to do when the crime novelist died in 2010. “Spenser was a cash cow,” Parker’s wife, Joan, told The Boston Globe in 2012, referring to her husband’s most beloved character, a Boston private eye. “And we felt that Bob would want to see Spenser live on.” In 2011, they hired Ace Atkins to write more Spenser novels, and in 2013 they asked Coleman to take on a different series, the one starring the Massachusetts cop Jesse Stone.

For Coleman, saying yes was the easy part. “It’s one thing to be offered to step into a great man’s shoes. It is quite another to stare at the blank screen and figure out what to do,” he says ruefully. So he called Atkins. “He gave me some tips on how my life was about to change,” Coleman says. “He suggested that I never go to the fan sites. Of course, that was the first thing I did.”

To read the full article on nytimes.com, click here

Share