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.
All I can say is… finally! This took a long time to get the audio book production of Charges completed, and I hope y’all will enjoy listening to it. It’s an “immersive” audio book, with SFX and an original score by my boy in England, Pip Shepherd. Narrated by a man who serendipitously was a colleague of my late father, Lee Alan. Turns out Lee replaced my dad at WXYZ radio in the early sixties, after my dad left Detroit to return to Texas (he’d fled his great gig in Dallas because he was regrettably linked to Jack Ruby, and had struck out north to gain some distance from all the goings-on in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination). It was odd talking to Lee about my dad’s time in Detroit, as I was only a mere babe and have no recollection of that time. But Lee gave this production his all!
Now available: The Last Town 6: Surviving the Dead, debuting on Amazon as you read this. Bon apetit!
…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.
Lennon led the men past an open warehouse. Beyond it was a parking lot, then Teal Club Road, if Norton remembered correctly. He heard a dry moan and saw a zombie emerge from a pile of what seemed to be masonry materials. It had dusty coveralls and a bloodied jaw. He slowed momentarily, trying to figure out if he should shoot it. Garcia tapped him on the shoulder.
“Keep going, sir. No shooting unless you have to. Gotta practice noise discipline.”
“We just crashed a very loud jet airplane,” Norton said. “I think they know we’re here.”
Well, it’s taken a long, long time, but the audiobook release of Charges is right around the corner, courtesy of composer Pip Shepherd. I am able to provide a peek (or listen, actually) of the score that accompanies the product. So point your browser here, slip in your ear buds or switch on your speakers, and listen to the music that accompanies the end of the world!
Just a quick note to let y’all know The Last Town #6: Surviving the Dead is now available for pre-order. I don’t have a final cover yet, so what’s up is totally bogus and will be replaced once a suitable version becomes handy.
Over the intervening weeks until release, I’ll be sure to post some bits wherein you might catch a glimpse of what’s about to happen to the fair folks of Single Tree, as well as the cops out of Los Angeles. Everything does come together, and in a way that’s not a hundred percent downer. Well… maybe that’s a lie.