As always, change is unavoidable.
One of the truisms perpetuated by the despised traditional publishing industry is that once you’re “branded”—i.e., once you’re known for a certain product lines—breaking out into other products is difficult, in not outright impossible. I’d always thought that was a load of crap, but after several years of plugging away and finding that some of my richer fare doesn’t sell very well…hmm, maybe those “taste makers” in the traditional industry might be onto something.
Yeah, just one thing, so let’s not all get excited. Apparently, every dog really does have his day and a broken clock is right every twelve hours.
This observation isn’t particularly new to me. I have some great product out there under the name Stephen Knight that doesn’t sell at all, like White Tiger and Charges. Both generally have good reviews, but after three or four people buy them, that’s it. I’ve been trying to breathe new life into Charges with a fully immersive audio book, and while that seems to be coming along nicely, it’s also a brand-new release—I need more time to evaluate how successful this very expensive addition to the product line will pan out.
And Stephen Knight is known primarily as a zombie apocalypse guy. It was never meant to be that way, of course—The Gathering Dead was done on a lark. It was just going to be a one-shot deal, done for fun, without a great deal of deliberation behind it. Instead, it spawned a franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. There are worse things a guy can do than provide some high-octane zompoc adventure every now and then. And Earthfall was the single best standalone work I’ve released, so that’s a bright ray of sunshine all by itself. If I released one of those every year, I’d buy the Playboy empire and restore it to its former glory.
Unfortunately for Knight? I’m bored shitless writing about zombies.
After The Last Town and even These Dead Lands: Immolation, I feel that I’m really just writing the same thing over and over and over again. While I do my best to people the stories with different characters, the story line is almost identical: zombies, fear, build, defend, collapse, retreat. Purists complain when you introduce new elements, even though what they complain about is the province of motion picture zombies, not literary. Thank God I have Earthfall 2 on the rack, because otherwise I’d be spending more time browsing vintage collectible tequilas online than I would be writing.
And it comes down to this: I want to write other stuff.
Enter Stephen Moore and Stephen Garrett.
Moore is my real surname; Knight is the professional alias I boosted from my father, as astute followers might have divined by now. Garrett is a family name from my mother’s side of the ancestral tree. For the longest time, I eschewed using my real name, as I a) don’t have an ego that needs to be fed with that kind of exposure, and b) I’m not sure I want to surrender my usual real-life anonymity in meatspace. (And also, Moore just isn’t as cool a moniker as Knight.) But Moore will be the guy who writes the police procedurals and techno-thrillers, and the odd dramatic work that parallels those worlds but doesn’t cross over into them, such as the still-nascent Hackett series. Moore’s first foray, aside from rebranding White Tiger with a new cover to kick things off, will be a police procedural about NYPD Detective Nick Avvento. Been wanting to do this one for years, and I have some great characters and a blood-chilling story line to go with it. There’s also some potential to release an upcoming work, Tribes, under this name; it’s a techno-thriller adventure story that was originally slotted for Knight, but I might change it up.
Garrett will be the hard, clanking science fiction guy. This is my native territory, writing stories about exploration, faraway places, bug-eyed aliens, and the thrill of adventure splashed across a canvas as wide as the universe itself. I’ve touched on it in past works under Knight, but only just barely. I’m itching to get into this. I have a huge series planned here, called The Reaches. Also some more free-booting military SF stuff which I have done, though it’s a bit dated and will need to be refreshed. Most of these are in my Continuum of Conflict story line which I’ve not revealed previously, and will be more “consumer-friendly” than The Reaches. Consider CoC will be more like the works of Robert Heinlein, while TR will be more like those by David Brin.
But it’s far from curtains for Knight. I—he?—still has to finish the next edition of The Retreat, and of course These Dead Lands will need to be completed. Then there’s the final installments of The Gathering Dead series, with the prequel Whispers of the Dead and the finale, Echoes of the Dead. And Earthfall 2, of course, along with the continuation of the Charges trilogy. So that’s like eight books, right there.
Does this sound confusing? It probably does, but it’s out of necessity, not preference. I’ve spent a lot of time getting Stephen Knight established; spinning off into new names doesn’t exactly thrill me.
Hopefully some of you will come along for the ride. I’ll keep you updated here as things begin to manifest themselves, but for the short term, don’t be alarmed.
…how about some Self-Contained Exploration Vehicle designs from none other than Singapore’s finest graphic artiste, the intrepid Marc Lee? This is to inform the cover art for the upcoming Earthfall 2, and I offer two pictures for you to contemplate.
First off, the initial draft, created with the simple guidance of “base it off a HEMT-T.” (And a HEMT-T is the acronym for Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck.)
Revisions followed, of course. Likely fearing a neverending circle jerk of “Well, yeah, but it’s really more like this…”, Marc responded with a series of potential uses for the rig:
Now of course, this doesn’t match what’s in my head, but what I see isn’t necessarily translatable into actionable artwork. What I see is something crossed between the Landmasters from Damnation Alley and the vehicle from Ark II. And if that isn’t an unholy union of absolute nonfunctionality, I don’t know what is. So I’ll just nod and accept Marc’s suggestions and go back to writing. Anyway, cover artwork is probably the only exciting thing about the writing process, so I hope you’ve enjoyed the glimpse into a rather desultory future.
…now if only there was a finished book to go along with it! With titles…
…and without. Great work by Singapore’s finest, Marc Lee!
But don’t despair! You can still join the adventure at These Dead Lands: Immolation and prepare for the next odyssey into the land of the dead!
It’s August, which means the dog days of summer are fast approaching. Usher them in with some head-banging zombie adventure: The Gathering Dead Omnibus is still available! Almost 900 pages of high-octane, military-on-zombie action that spans the globe! Just like summer, this edition won’t last forever, so get it while the getting is good!
I’ve gotten some pretty good reviews in the past, and my collaboration with Scott Wolf has received more than its fair share of good ones. But this is the first time a reader has loved a book I’ve worked on and then expressed a desire for it not to be made into a film! 🙂
As always, These Dead Lands: Immolation remains on sale at Amazon in both ebook and print formats, and we hope the audio version is out by the end of the year. In the meantime, These Dead Lands: Desolation continues its journey through the, ah, birthing process. Stay tuned!
For a limited time only, I’m offering the entire Gathering Dead series in a single volume. This includes:
A really crummy cover!
The Gathering Dead
Left with the Dead
The Rising Horde: Volume 1
The Rising Horde: Volume 2
All of the text has been lightly refreshed to correct some typos and inconsistencies, but those of you who have already bought the series shouldn’t be compelled to buy it again. This release has a limited shelf life, as the universe of The Gathering Dead will be gaining two new additions: the prequel, Whispers of the Dead, and the final book which will close out this segment of the cycle, Echoes of the Dead.
This release is priced at $5.99 for over 850 pages of zombie mayhem, so if you’re new to the genre, pick it up and enjoy!
Visit The Gathering Dead: Omnibus Edition for your copy now!
…it’s The Retreat 4: Alamo!
This just went live on Amazon, folks. So if you’d like to get your crazy, demented Klown on…you know what to do!