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Back In The Game

Well, now that the dust has settled and things are mostly back to normal–as normal as things get around here, that is–I’m back at it, and banged out around 4,700 words last night on the latest book. I have to finish it by December 3, as that’s when I’m supposed to release it to the editor. Of course, it’s only 65% done, but hey, I’m up for it.

I was going to release Tribes as my next book, but it wasn’t coming along all that well for me, so I’ve tabled it for the moment until I can figure out how to make it more exciting and fun, something which has eluded me for some time. I like the general story, about researchers at the South Pole uncovering something from the distant past that has a great amount of value in the present day, valuable enough to finally push the United States into direct conflict with the happy People’s Republic of China with our intrepid researchers caught in the middle (and where their outpost is suddenly ground zero between U.S. Army Rangers and Chinese Marines), but while the framework is there, I’ve had a lot of trouble building up the body mass that such a story should sport. So, Tribes is out of the running for the nonce.

But reaching into my vast collection of old stories, scripts, and half-completed novels, I pulled out a work that thrilled the socks off me when I first wrote it. In 1983.

It’s a post-apocalypse science fiction adventure script called Earthfall, which I’ve been busily converting into a standalone novel. It takes place in the not-so-distant future where an unforunate nuclear exchange between the U.S. and a resurgent nationalist Russia pretty much altered the course of human history, as the detonation of several hundred nuclear weapons will do. The U.S. had a sustainment plan since the Reagan years called Harmony Base, a subterranean facility buried several hundred feet below the surface of western Kansas, where a mixture of civilians and military types essentially shelter in place for a decade before emerging from the base to rebuild and renew. A freak accident places the installation in jeopardy, and a team of explorers is dispatched to distant California, where they have to locate items that can restore Harmony Base to functionality–otherwise, everyone in the base will kick the bucket in two weeks.

Readers of The Gathering Dead series of books will instantly identify Command Sergeant Major Scott Mulligan as Gartrell’s progenitor. Like Gartrell did in the Dead books, Mulligan carries the dramatic weight of the story, a fifty-something warrior who is tasked to carry out one final mission in a world that’s just not as lifeless as it looks. I liken the work to The Road Warrior meets Damnation Alley with a little of The Hills Have Eyes thrown in for good measure. It should be released in ebook and print in the middle of December.

And after that, I start winding up on another McDaniels/Gartrell ouvre with some support from Sergeant Jorge Roche, presuming I can come up with a suitable story.

That’s all for now, folks. Next up, an update on The Gathering Dead film. Stay tuned.

  1. Mags
    December 3, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    Oh please write another Gatrell/McDaniels book! I’d be ever so happy. Loved the series!

    • December 5, 2012 at 7:52 am

      I’m glad you liked the Gathering Dead series thus far…I do plan on getting the lads together for another bout, but as always, coming up with the story is the hard part!

  2. MarcW
    December 5, 2012 at 3:42 am

    Hey Stephen,

    Look forward to Earthfall, its sounds intriguing. You must have had a very busy week to meet the editor’s deadline. Hope it wasn’t too crazy for you. But that’s when inspiration takes place and one’s writing is at its best.

    You also mentioned another McDaniels/Gatrell story in the works providing there’s a story behind it. I think I can understand why it would be hard to continue the saga in terms of story… while making it just as original as the story has been so far. Those stories so unique and I think its because of the characters. I wonder if you think in terms of the characters, the task of building a story around them might be easier. But what the hell do I know, and saying that with respect.

    I guess I would say the readers would be satisfied with any continuation because of the strength of the characters… I guess I say this because as a reader, I’m more interested in the characters than the circumstances they might find themselves in. Hope that makes sense however imperfectly stated. Guess I’m speaking to the core of your series which is the characters rather than trying to find a circumstance that is so unique to anything else out there.

    Just thinking the actions of Gatrell & McDaniels would make the most mundane set of circumstances interesting simply because of their reactions. General cliche goes that there’s nothing new under the sun… but the shadows cast by the sun might provide interesting shapes simply because of the things moving them.

    But foremost, I’m looking forward to Earthfall. Like you said, you originally began the tale in ’83. I hope you keep the Reaganesque feel to the times or at least a legacy of it. Guess I say that as nothing more than my formative years were in the 80s. Outstanding times.

    And times that Gatrell & MCDaniels would have thrived and been proud of.


    • December 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

      Wow Marc, as always you demonstrate a keen insight into things that leave me thinking, “Christ, this guy’s got game!” Are you sure you don’t have a writer lurking inside you somewhere?

      I did finish the draft, but it’s so rough and uneven that I had to ask for an extension (I haven’t received a reply yet, so I imagine the editor is still cursing me). This is how it goes sometimes, but if I hand off something that’s half-baked, it makes her job incredibly more difficult; as opposed to doing a developmental edit (why did this character do that? What happened to this character in the past to make her want this? Wait, you mentioned robot hookers from space in Chapter XX, but now they’re gone?), she would be spending the majority of her time doing line edits, ferreting out typos and correcting misspellings and grammar–things that I should be able to police on my own. Alas, I’ve had no time to do that yet, so I need another few days to get these items straightened out.

      Curious you should mention Reagan…in the book, it was his administration that founded the Harmony initiative, which led to the creation of Harmony Base. It was built in the 1980s, upgraded in the 1990s, upgraded again in the 2000s, then mostly sidelined until world events conspired to make the last administration fire it up again. Good thing they did, because the worst happened right after that, and an undermanned Harmony Base found itself in the foment.

      As for Gartrell and McDaniels, I’m glad you think those guys are able to haul along my flabby stories. Here’s hoping they’re ready for another run!

      • MarcW
        December 8, 2012 at 4:54 am

        Thanks for the complement, Stephen. You’ve got me… I do write a bit but nothing published… at least anywhere reputable. So, I guess that makes me an asshole with an opinion or one who is prone to giving unsolicited advise. But you are someone who needs no real advise. You’re an outstanding writer and it has been fun seeing how successful you’ve been, despite of and outside of the traditional publishing houses… the supposed gatekeepers who think they know best for us readers. You sure proved them wrong.

        Good luck on Earthfall. Though it might seem a diamond in the rough at the moment, you’ll obviously work through that and us readers will get to enjoy the next great Stephen Knight novel. It might be some months away from publication but we know we’re in for a treat. 🙂

        As for Gatrell & MCDaniels, yes there is obviously a demand for the next chapter. Then again you had left it off as a well told, self-contained series. You’re the master of that universe and only you know if it’s right to continue it or not. Guess I have all sorts of ideas of how you could continue that story… that’s in part because, as a reader, I loved the characters so much that my imagination runs wild. That’s a mark of a good book or series in this case… you have grabbed the reader. I guess some of those ideas might also come as the “bit of a writer” I might be. But I’m not an asshole so I wouldn’t presume to tell the master on how to do his business. 🙂 Bottom line is that the Gatrell & MCDaniels storyline is awesome whether you chose to continue it or not. You have other great series in City of the Damned and Hackett’s War… not to mention the great stuff you haven’t yet released or even conceived. All I know as a reader is that we have much to look forward to from a favorite writer, whatever the story. Looking forward to Earthfall as the next book with many other great ones to follow.

        Oh and as for me being an unpublished author… you would probably guess at to why by now. I’m too damned wordy. 🙂 Could have summed this all up by just saying, Hey, Stephen. Look forward to Earthfall and all the great stuff you have in store for us in the future. We know it’ll be excellent reading whatever the topic.

      • December 10, 2012 at 9:13 pm

        Why, thank you…now instead of writing long posts here, work on writing some goodness for fun and profit! 😉

    • MarcW
      December 12, 2012 at 3:05 am

      No more long posts here. Will look out for your future books.

      • December 14, 2012 at 10:23 am

        Hey, I don’t mind your long posts…they make for some good readin’. I just hope that you’re not using up all your literary energies here!

      • Jay
        December 14, 2012 at 1:54 pm

        The Gathering Dead was a good book, but with The Rising Horde ( even though the end killed… after all Gartrell went through..my god.. ) you just nailed it….

        Finding the right people with the right state of mind to translate would be the most difficult part of it I guess…. I’ll be in France next week for a few and planned to catch up with some friends.. hopefully that won’t be a dead end.

      • December 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

        Thank you so much! And I’m glad you liked The Rising Horde. Feel free to leave some reviews…in French! 😀

  3. joseph larosa
    December 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    hi steve. earthfall sonds like a great book counting the days so i can read it.another book with gatrell and mcdaniels just hearing about these books is like an early christmas gift.i know the second book would be a while i cant wait for earthfall the book world has been a lonely place with out new books from you.hope the movie is going well for you.keep up the fantastic writing that only you can do!! hope you and your family have a great holiday.

    • December 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks, Joe! I hope to start posting excerpts from the book up here soon.

  4. Jay
    December 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    I’m not english native speaking and usualy do not write any review on anything due to my english… Nevertheless I’d like to thank Stephen, espeally on his awesome work on the Gathering dead serie which is actually one of the best serie about Zombies..Most likely the best…I spread the word everywhere in France, bothering my friend and telling them to read these books even though it has not been translate yet I’ll keep botthering people …. I’m just wondering who’s gonna be crazy enough to turn them i to the best zombie movies !!!!!

    Stephen thanks a lot !!!! It’s areal pleasure to read these books… Three times 😉

    Ps: sorry the bad english though

    • December 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm

      Jay, thanks so much! Tell you what, if you can find me a decent translator, I’ll have the book translated into French as soon as possible!

      • Jay
        December 11, 2012 at 5:41 am

        I’m ortified about my previous post… Such bad English… Won’t use my iphone anymore…

        As a designer I can translate it into graphics, but even though I’ve been lliving in England for about 5 years, my English isn’t good enough to translate it properly in French, that would be disrespectful…. Nevertheless I will start looking for a decent and clever translator…

        I know that my friend are craving for it…


      • December 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

        Jay, your English is far, FAR superior to my French–you shouldn’t apologize! Thanks very much for your kind words and any efforts you might make on behalf of The Gathering Dead. I’d love to get it into the French marketplace.

  5. MarcW
    December 17, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Stephen Knight :Hey, I don’t mind your long posts…they make for some good readin’. I just hope that you’re not using up all your literary energies here!

    Stephen, I appreciate what you’re saying. But I’ve left too long of posts here. Love your books and will always watch out for anything new. As for the long posts on my part… I think of it this way. There are two kinds of people who happen to write; those who possibly can write and those who are actual “writers.” Actual “Writers” have that extra set of qualities who make it happen… won’t get into the dynamics of that, else another long post. 🙂

    You are a “writer” and an excellent one at that while I am just one who might be able to write. I am perfectly happy to just cheer on guys like you who can produce such great stuff. Your books have been so much fun to read.

  6. Jay
    December 17, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Hi Stephen,

    Is there any “public” email address you can share ? I spoke to a few friends regarding the French translation.


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