My friend Bev has a crush on Guy Gavriel Kay. She met him at the World Fantasy Convention in November and it got us talking about who in the literary world would we really want to meet — the writer that we all envied, emulated, whatever.
I had problems coming up with a current writer who would instill a sense of awe. In the past, it would’ve been two: Clive Barker and Robert McCammon.
Clive Barker decided he didn’t want to write horror anymore, so I decided I didn’t want to read him anymore.
Robert McCammon was my favorite writer. Several of his books still rank on my all time list. Wolf’s Hour (about a werewolf secret agent during WWII), Swan Song (like the Stand but much better), Gone South (a very strange book about bounty hunters), Boy’s Life (a supernatural journey through a Boy’s memories)….
Then he disappeared.
From his website, I discovered that he semi-retired, then decided he didn’t want to write horror so he wrote another book…except his publisher didn’t want it. A rejection for a bestselling writer.
And he quit.
Which truly amazed me that one rejection could derail someone so successful, so popular. Of course, this enforces the whole “I’m the best writer/I’m a fraud” mentality that all writers wrestle with. But to happen to him was surprising.
But then in 2002 he published his first book in a long time. It was called Speaks the Nightbird. It takes place in 1699 and is about a witch trial. It’s long, over 700 pages of fairly fine print. But that seems a good thing right now as I’m flying through it.
I don’t understand how this book didn’t find a major publisher. Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston have a whole line of books similar in theme — a non-supernatural tale that is steeped in the supernatural. So to say it isn’t horror is a misnomer. It is horror. Just because the events can eventually be explained as natural occurrences doesn’t make it any less horrific or exhilarating.
The publishing business is a confusing place.
Did he quit or did he say ‘eff you’ to the industry do you think? I’d like to think that he did the latter and sat back on the laurels of the other novels. But that he didn’t get a major to take that latest book leads me to believe that if he did, he’s now black-balled.
A bitchy industry, indeed.
Sadly, John, no. He admits he couldn’t handle the rejection, sunk into a depression, and pretty much disappeared.
Now, I’m reading his next book and it’s fabulous, and not much different than his other stuff…except I’m assuming at the end all the supernatural stuff will be explained away like in Scooby Doo (I mock, but this happens in a lot of thrillers). In other words, his agent (and himself) let him down.