Thursday, May 30, 2013

How Many Novels?



After spending many years writing short stories I was always trying to learn to write novels. And it took me some time to construct a novel that I was able to sell. It was a long, strange struggle for me.

Since the sale of that novel (THE FLOCK), I have written very few short stories. Part of this is due to the fact that there are so few markets for short stories these days. Even when I was actively writing them, the markets were not so many and the competition extremely fierce for open slots. These days the anthologies and the magazines that I used to try to crack are mainly gone. Now there is the self-publishing world of crap and muck and I refuse to take part in that hideous and noxious game.

Two days ago I finished my latest novel, THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH. It's based on a story that I wrote when I was a very young man
and which failed to sell in text form. I did, however, sell it in comic script format to Stephen R Bissette's legendary comic book anthology, TABOO. The story was a song of praise and admiration for the zombie mythos created by George A. Romero and to a specific B-class horror movie that influenced me as a kid: "Fiend Without a Face". I combined images conjured by those two influences and came up with THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH. In a way, I was writing zombie yarns long before the current wave of zombie fiction. I just hadn't sold any of it until "The New Ecology of Death" saw print in TABOO.


And now I have completed transforming those ideas from that story into a novel. Someone recently asked me how many novels I've sold. I had to admit that I didn't know. For some reason--compared to most other writers I encounter--I don't actually have the ego of a writer. Just about every other writer I have known walk about thumping their chests and going on and on about their work. It's probably why I can't stand the company of other writers and stopped attending science-fiction conventions. But I was actually flummoxed. I hadn't sat down to count the novels I'd sold, just as I long ago stopped counting the number of short stories I have sold.

So. How many is it? I've sold THE FLOCK, THE CLAN (sequel to THE FLOCK), THE COALITION Series (three novellas making up one novel), HISSMELINA (my favorite of my novels, but my poorest selling), THE LIVING END, WITHERING, and THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH. So...seven novels. That's not bad, I reckon.

A few years back I even optioned the movie rights to my first novel to Warner Brothers via Don Murphy and John Wells. I'm still waiting to hear that it has received the green light to make its way to the screen. But one of my old writer friends told me that even if that day never comes, I at least got farther in that direction than he did, and he'd sold more than thirty novels.

And how many short stories have I sold? I honestly cannot say. When I was younger I would keep a tally of my sales to various small press magazines, slick professional mags, and anthologies. But then I actually got tired of that. I stopped counting. All I can say with any degree of confidence is that I've sold somewhere between sixty-something and seventy-something stories. What can I say?

(I'd like to post images for the covers of THE NEW ECOLOGY OF DEATH and THE CLAN, but neither of those has seen print yet. They're coming...I just don't have the images for them.)



"AT LAST! A ZOMBIE NOVEL WITH BRAINS AS WELL AS GUTS!" THE LIVING END.



"Often the monster is just a misunderstood anti-hero. But sometimes it's murdering, blood-thirsty asshole!" WITHERING.




5 comments:

MarkGelbart said...

I've gotten lucky and have read 2 excellent novels this past month that if you get a chance, you should check out.

Stephen King's novel about the Kennedy assassination is the best novel he has ever written (considering how prolific he is that's saying something).

As a writer, you would be impressed with Jodi Piccoult's new novel--The Storyteller. This novel includes 4 different stories from 5 different points of view. A casual reader doesn't realize how hard this is to pull off, but she manages to make it work. She ties together an FBI investigation of a war criminal, a concentration camp story, a romance, and a story within a story about a vampire. Amazing.

James Robert Smith said...

I haven't read a King novel in a while. I've been told it's a good one.

Will check out THE STORYTELLER. Thanks for the recommendation.

Kirk G said...

I started listening to 11-23-63 by Stephen King, but got too creeped out by it. I stopped about the time that he got to Dallas, cause it was obvious that there was going to be heart break and pain, and we all know what the ultimate solution is going to have to me. I guessed the ending, but haven't read it yet. Does it get better?

James Robert Smith said...

Don't tell me! I'm gonna read it, so I don't want to know what King does with the story!

MarkGelbart said...

To Kirk G.,

I don't understand how you could stop reading it, just to see if the guy was actually going to change history or not.