Friday, November 01, 2013

Writing: Posthumous Publication

Two days ago the world lost a talented writer of medical thrillers and I lost a dear cyber-friend with the death of Michael Palmer. His son, in a Facebook post, indicates that Michael's last book, Resistant, will be published next spring as scheduled. He and I corresponded frequently, and apparently after he carried out his last revision, Jennifer, his editor was very pleased with what he'd done with the book. I look forward to reading this last reminder of my friend.

I never thought much about the question of what happens when a well-known author dies until the passing of the talented writer, Robert B. Parker. He had written four different series, each featuring a unique lead character. I've read the books featuring these characters, books written by others, supposedly "in the style" of Parker, and was quite disappointed with them. Now I hear that the last book on which he was working has been completed by his long-time editor, and is out in time for Christmas. Kay is currently reading Silent Night, and I can hardly wait to open it myself. I hope it reminds me of Parker's writing, but I remain a bit pessimistic. Other writers may try to write like a deceased author, just as other painters may try to copy the work of the masters, but it's rare indeed to find someone who can reproduce the unique "voice" of an author or "touch" of a painter.

We writers tend to think that we'll always write, and someone will always publish our work. But, as Scripture tells us, our time to die is already ordained. What will happen to our work? Will it still affect people? Will people care at all?

What's your idea about posthumous books? Do you think that the characters should live on as portrayed by other writers? Or should the work die with the author? I'd like to hear.


pudy68 said...

I'm of the opinion that the original author creates the character, and therefore, "owns" him/her. The next soul that tries to continue on with it would, even unintentionally, end up including at least slight changes to said characters, so they're never really the same. Readers like me are not as much interested in the storylines, as in the character development, becoming more and more engrossed as the characters come to life in our minds. We would pick up on the new direction, however slight, and it wouldn't be the same enjoyable experience, anymore. Doesn't mean it would totally stink, but less can be more, right? Let the characters end when the author stops, for whatever reason.

Richard Mabry said...

I'm with you. Thanks for your comment.