..so let’s get to it, shall we? And let’s do it by the numbers.
1. I wrote something new. I hadn’t planned on it. In fact a failed two-week writing retreat in July made it clear to me that I wasn’t ready to write anything at all now, and wouldn’t be for a while. Then an email reminded me that I’d promised a story for a publishing project of Crime Fiction Academy in conjunction with Kindle. I’d entirely forgotten, and it turns out Plato and Frank Zappa were right and Necessity really is the Mother of Invention. Who knew? An idea popped up, and eight days and 10,000 words later I had a story called “Gym Rat,” which will be eVailable ere long. I’ll keep you posted, and you can let me know whether or not I should have bothered.
2. I found a couple of old things, one of which I’ve mentioned before. It’s Sinner Man, my very first crime novel, written in 1960, rejected by every publisher worthy of the name, then brought out by one who wasn’t, eight years later and under a pen name. I never saw a copy, never found out what new title they’d hung on it, and tried mightily but unsuccessfully to track it down. Then it turned up, as you’ll be able to read in my afterword, and I did a little dusting and cleaning, and Hard Case will bring it out in November. They’re offering it in three forms, ebook and hardcover and paperback, and Mike Dennis, the gritty Voice of Noir, has recorded it in audio. You might want to pre-order it in the medium of your choice; as one who seems to be forgetting things lately, I highly recommend you do so.
The second thing isn’t as old, but it’s definitely a thing. My assistant, the indispensable David Trevor, was going through a stack of manuscripts in a storage closet, with an eye toward listing them for auction. (First, though, he priced them for private sale, and a single collector bought the lot. So there won’t be an auction. Sorry!)
Among the treasures was the photocopy of a manuscript of a short story, “Whatever It Takes.” And then, right underneath it, was a typescript of the same story, the original on bond paper. He brought them both to me, said he couldn’t recall the story, and I realized I’d written the thing sometime in the 1990s, had it Xeroxed, and then never got around to sending it anywhere. I read it, and while I don’t think you’ll find it shortlisted for an Edgar next year, it struck me as perfectly acceptable. I sent it to Linda Landrigan at Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, and she agreed, and you’ll be able to read it in their December issue—which goes on sale in early November, about the same time Sinner Man makes its appearance.
3. I actually remembered something. You may recall that, of the 1000 hardcover copies I published of The Crime of Our Lives, around 800 went to Amazon. Sales were slow, and some months ago I had an opportunity to pulp the lot and spare myself stiff storage charges. But first I slashed the price—from $24.99 to $9.99, with free shipping to Amazon Prime members. That moved a lot of copies, but it still left a ton of them, and I kept missing deadlines for free removal, perhaps out of a disinclination to see such lovely books destroyed. Well, sentiment and publishing don’t go well together, and when another deadline approached I remembered in time to consign 600 books to the metaphorical flames. They’ve still got 40 or 50 left, and they’re still $9.99, and once they’re gone I’ll never have to write out this paragraph again. TCOOL is my collection of essays and remembrances of crime fiction and its practitioners, and the hardcover is a rare book (1000 printed, 600 of them pulped) and this would look to be your last chance.
Ooops! I’m afraid that last chance has come and gone. Within 48 hours of this newsletter hitting the email stream, the entire Amazon supply of TCOOL hardcovers was sold. Some third-party sellers have copies listed on Amazon, but they run upwards from $30. May I suggest the paperback? It’s $14.99. Or there’s the ebook at $4.99.
4. Bouchercon’s coming. Well, you probably know that. It’s in New Orleans this year, and my Frequent Companion and I will be there September 14-18. I’ll have various events and signings on my dance card, but chief among them is a panel Thursday at 1:30pm. Wonder of wonders, it’s a panel without a topic—but I suspect we’ll find things to talk about. My fellow panelists are Bill Crider, Catherine Coulter, Joe Lansdale, and SJ Rozan, none of whom I’ve ever found to be at a loss for words. And the moderator, at what I’m told is her very first Bouchercon, is one Jill Block. You may have read her first story in Ellery Queen, or her second in Dark City Lights; she has another coming up soon in In Sunlight or in Shadow.
5. Which reminds me—In Sunlight or in Shadow is coming, too. As you no doubt recall, it’s an anthology of stories inspired by Edward Hopper’s paintings, beautifully produced and lavishly illustrated, with brand-new stories by a host of writers, including Stephen King and Joyce Carol Oates and Craig Ferguson and Megan Abbott, and I’ll stop now before I reproduce the entire table of contents. ISOIS is the lead title for fall for Pegasus Books, and they’re reporting keen early demand. They’ll be beating the drum for it at Bouchercon, and there’ll be more promotional phenomena closer to its December publication date in New York City and at the Edward Hopper House in Nyack. (Details on those events when I have them.)
Pegasus is right proud of this book—and, by golly, so am I. It’s shaping up to be a hugely popular Christmas gift, but if you buy it for that purpose you’d better order more than one copy, or how will you force yourself to part with it? Pre-ordering locks in a very favorable price, should guarantee you a first edition, and—to return to what seems to be a theme here—guards against your forgetting the whole thing.
6. Meanwhile, Matt Scudder aims for world domination…with Bernie on his heels. Which is to say that my program of self-publishing partnerships with translators continues apace. Drei am Haken (orig. Time to Murder and Create) , the long-awaited second novel translated by Stefan Mommertz, is on sale at all Amazon platforms, and in a matter of days it will join Die Sünden der Väter as a handsome paperback. Scudder was quite popular in Germany some years ago, but the books have been out of print for ages, and I’m delighted to see how eagerly German readers are taking to them. The Kindle ebook of Drei am Haken is offered right now at an introductory price of $2.99 (or €2,99), but in a week it will go up to the more realistic price point of $4.99/€4,99. (Subscribers to the German edition of this newsletter learned as much a couple of days ago; if you’d like to get on that list, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with “newsletter-DE” in the header.)
Spanish readers can now meet Bernie Rhodenbarr. His debut in Burglars Can’t Be Choosers has been translated as Los ladrones no pueden escoger by Jordi García, who previously rendered Getting Off as Excitación. Meanwhile, Ana and Enriqueta Carrington have been wending their way through the Scudder short stories, and are all the way to #7—Perdámonos. (They’ve also translated the thriller Such Men Are Dangerous as El hombre peligroso.)
In Italy, Luigi Garlaschelli has been teaching Matt to speak Italian, with eight stories now available in that language; Un momento di sconforto is the latest. It won’t be long before both Luigi and the Sisters Carrington finish the last of the stories in The Night and the Music, at which time we’ll bundle them up, and you’ll be able to acquire either La noche y la música or La notte e la musica, in ebook or paperback form, as you prefer. (Whereupon Luigi and Ana and Enriqueta will turn their attention to novels. With a backlist like mine, nobody is likely to run out of work…)
7. Listen up! Among the self-publishing options on hand, the ability to bring out my works in audio via ACX has been particularly gratifying, as has the way y’all have responded to Theo Holland’s voicing of Resume Speed, Mike Dennis’s Writing the Novel from Plot to Print to Pixel, Emily Beresford’s Thirty, and my own Keller’s Fedora. I’m happy to report that there’s more to come. There’s one Jill Emerson novel that’s never been recorded, Shadows, and P. J. Morgan is doing wonderful work with it, as is Theo Holland with The Adulterers.
The eight-book Evan Tanner series has long been out of print in audio, but that’s about to change. Years ago, when Tanner on Ice came out, an audio publisher engaged Alan Sklar to voice it, and Alan got in touch to ask me how to pronounce various phrases in Burmese. Now how the hell would I know? Alan, undaunted, trotted off to the Burmese Embassy, where he spent a pleasant half hour with a pair of obliging young men who told him everything he wanted to know on the subject. (And more, I suspect…)
Now that’s dedication. And it delights me to report that Alan has agreed to be the voice of Evan Tanner, and is making his way right now through The Canceled Czech.
8. Achtung! I’m looking for someone to voice audio versions of Die Sünden der Väter and Drei am Haken on a shared-royalty basis. If you’d like to narrate a book in German, and have the capacity to produce it in a home studio, email me.
9. Gotta go write something in Chinese. Well, not exactly. I’ll be writing it in English, but it’ll be published in Chinese, in the Taiwanese magazine Unitas. I’ve been contributing a monthly column to this deluxe publication, and it’s mostly been a matter of selecting an article or short story that’s never appeared before in that language. But this month I decided some thoughts on series characters would be appropriate, and I couldn’t find anything I’d already written on the subject that struck me as ideal—so I’ll have to write something new. I’ll probably post the English version on my website if I think it might be worth your time.
Whew! Well, I warned you I had a lot to report, and I’ve nattered on long enough. Enjoy what’s left of the summer, prepare to welcome the fall, and when the world is too much with you, pick up something to read. And if it’s something of mine, so much the better!
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