Thursday, January 26, 2012

Immortal Dollars…Um, I mean, Characters

The crime fiction community has, of course, always been obsessed with death. It is after all part of what we do—in our stories, the greater the risk, the better we can view humanity. However, death in the publishing industry seems to be a different matter.

When Robert B. Parker, one of my favorite writers, passed away a couple years back, I was selfishly saddened, realizing I could no longer look forward the annual spring arrival of the latest Spenser novel.

Until now, that is. Walking through the mystery section of my local Barnes and Noble recently, I was astonished to see that Spenser lives on. Jeez, I always knew Spenser never aged, that he was tougher than a bag full of hammers; but this shocked even me—one of his most loyal fans: the character managed to inexplicably escape death when his creator had not. That’s beyond tough. It’s immortal.

A wonderful aspect of being a published writer is that one’s books outlive their author, allowing one to leave a written legacy. I’ve often thought about my grandchildren’s grandchildren perhaps reading my dribble. But that was naïve. I mean, not only can the books live on, but the character can, too—if they’re worth enough money.

And, truth be told, I don’t much like that.

“I don’t want someone else writing my character when I’m dead,” said award-winning crime novelist Reed Farrel Coleman last week from the confines of my couch. “It’s about money for the estate,” he said.

Money? Not characters?

Silly me.


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Hannah Dennison said...

Hmm .... well ... I thought about your post and how I feel when a "dead author" presents a new book. For me, it takes away the "authenticity" of the work. However, I am looking forward to reading Anthony Horowitz taking continuing the Sherlock Holmes series Holmes - somehow that doesn't bother me. But what does bother me .... Jennifer Garner playing a "young" Miss Marple for TV. Sheeesh. Hollywood.

Rick Blechta said...

I really do think it’s terrible for characters to be used for purely monetary purposes after their creator has stopped writing (for whatever reason). It’s a money-grab, purely and simply, either by the author’s estate (and those who own it) or the publisher or both. I’m sure if you most of the authors involved in this, they would have said they don’t want “new” books written after they’re gone. There are plenty of other series that readers can fall in love with.

Nothing seems to be sacred in our global society anymore.

Rick Blechta said...

I meant to say corporate society not global society!