October 2015 Newsletter Mailbag
Every month in our monthly newsletter(subscription link to the right) we pose a question to the readers. We get a lot of great responses – too many to include in the newsletter, so we post them all here.
In the September 2015 Newsletter we asked: what do you think about a dead authors book series being revived? With Stieg Larssons “Millenium” series being revived, as well as Vince Flynns “Mitch Rapp” – it was clearly a hot topic. Please feel free to leave your own opinions in the comments. Here was all of the feedback we received in the order we received it:
Earl: Was a big Ludlum fan but have not followed his series as written by other authors…However, I have followed both the JESSE STONE and SPENSER series since Robert Parker has passed…I was totally invested in both characters and have enjoyed their continuation…Parker’s style has been faithfully followed…I also am a big MITCH RAPP fan and look forward to Kyle Mills attempt to replicate Flynn’s style…I hope he does…
Sandy: The only instance of this that I am familiar with is the continuation of the Spenser books, originally by Robert Parker. Being an avid Robert Parker fan, I of course tried the books in that series that were written by others after his death. The old familiar characters were there; even the attitudes of the characters were there, but the books were just flat. Unheard of for me, I didn’t even bother to finish the last one…the Robert Parker magic simply wasn’t there. Sad as it is, my opinion is that when it’s over, it’s over — I will just reread those cherished books again sometime in the future.
Pam: First if I had realized “The Girl in the Spider Web” was another “Tattoo” book I would have jumped on it immediately. This series was one of the best both for fiction and intrigue. I have not found anyone who did not love the series. I am looking forward to reading the new Agatha Christie also. I think if you love the author when they are alive then you should give them a chance to entertain you when they are dead. Just thinking.
Kelly: I look forward to The Survivor, I really enjoyed reading Vince Flynn. If the author leaves his series at a point that you could say it is finished but like Mitch Rapp, Jack Ryan Jr and the Campus, and the Wheel of Time I am glad another author is writing/wrote them to finish them off.
Deb: I, for one, have grown very attached to many characters of my favorite authors – -Mitch Rapp is one of them! I already enjoy Kyle Mills’ books, so I will absolutely read any further Mitch Rapp stories written by Kyle. I’ll certainly check out the new writer in the trilogy mentioned (Dragon Tattoo), but I don’t know if I will like the new author as well. You mentioned the Bourne series. I read every one of the Bourne books by the original author and then I read some of the books by the new author (and I like his own books under his own name as well), but I quit reading them quite some time ago. I just didn’t have the same love and interest in the character under the new author as I previously had. Maybe someday I’ll go back to them, but haven’t yet . . . .
BTW—-I LOVE your site! I am a retired paralegal who has read voraciously my entire life. However, sometimes I’ve stumbled into authors and series characters that I really loved but then simply didn’t have the time or present interest to go back and start the series from the beginning. As a retiree, however, I’ve started a small notebook with each of my favorite authors and their series characters listed— and then I discovered your site and was able to list IN ORDER each of the character series so I could read each of the story lines from the beginning—or at least whenever I’ve been able to find all of the books for an author in my library. For those that I haven’t found, my notebook lets me know that and I’m on the prowl at used book stores and garage sales! Anyway—-THANK YOU FOR SUCH A USEFUL and GREAT WEBSITE!
Robin: Yes, I have read several series that continued after the original author passed away. My most memorable is “Scarlet”, as the sequel to “Gone with the Wind”. I loved the “Bourne Series”, and am still reading the “Reacher” series from Lee Child.
John: Absolutely delighted Mitch Rapp books will continue very sad when he passed away ,books can sometimes be a bit hard to get into but with vince Flynn you can’t put them down ,pleased to hear about continuing authors like stig Larson ,so keep up good work,look forward to monthly reports
Carol: Yes, I am definitely in favor of continuing to list books of beloved authors that have passed on. I think there are still great story lines to be continued for some of their series.
Will: Please (please, please, please) notify us of any replacement authors carrying on our favorite characters. I have been suffering from Patrick O’Brian and Bernard Cornwell withdrawal.
Larry: I don’t let the demise of the author deter me from trying the new writer’s work. If I like a series, and like the character(s), I am willing to see if the tone is acceptable with someone else spinning the yarn.
Joyce: Ann Hillerman is posthumously attempting to continue her father’s much loved procedurals of Navaho Tribal Policemen, Leaphorn and Chee. I believe she has succeeded because she wisely chose to more fully develop Bernadette Chee initially, than risk offending readers who might resent character modification of Chee and Leaphorn. I will continue to read her books.
The writer/s of posthumous Robert Parker series, while writing well lack some essense I cannot identify and it just reminds me of our loss.
Kathleen: Regarding resurrecting a dead author’s fiction books, I read pretty much on a case-by-case basis. I hate to see a favorite character (Nero Wolfe) or a fictional world (Dune) disappear with the original author’s death. But the writing and imagination must be on a par with said author or the illusion is lost.
Judy: I do not like books and will not read books by someone who try’s to write like Tom Clancy, or Robert Parker. they don’t have the same style of writing. they may think they are honoring the original author, but hey are not to my way of thinking.
G: It was my understanding that Vince Flynn was in the middle of The Survivor. Only time will tell if Kyle Mills can capture Mitch Rapp. The Spenser series is not the same with either author who tried to carry on
Anna: I would continue to read at least the next one to check out the new author. I have read some series (remember Star War novels by many different writers) and still enjoyed the theme.
Michael: I find with it as long as they are true with dead authors concepts of his books
Laura: It’s a case by case basis and I do respect it is no easy task for the ghost writer to acquire and synthesize all the details that makes the character so unique. For me, Robert B. Parker’s Spenser was too noticeably different after Parker passed as was the case with Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, John Clark, and that crew. I imagine it can be done well. I haven’t found the match for me. Has anybody else had a successful transition?
Alan: As long as its CLEARLY indicated on the cover of the book and the inside also that the book is NOT written by the original author, and that no one knows what he/ she would think of this book, I guess it is legal…..The other thing that isn’t mentioned often enough is writers who use “ghost writers”, ie, up and coming writers to essentially write the books….the author whose name will be on the book probably gives him or her the main plot line and probably reviews the writing….but that is how it is possible for so many “best selling” authors to come out with a new book every year!!! Or less! AND it seems many people don’t realize it. At least James Patterson has begun crediting the “other” authors of his VERY frequent best sellers!!!
Sue: If an author has a book in the works when he passes away and someone else finishes his work, I will read it. I assume in that case that most of the plot, characters, etc. are the original author’s creation. I would probably not read a book by someone who just picks up another author’s character to try to extend a series — it just wouldn’t be the same thing!
Ron: This is a despicable thing for anyone to do. We read an author because of his talent, style, and imagination. He presents something unique to him and ONLY to him. The style of writing appeals to you; so you read and enjoy everything he writes. When he is gone, that is the end of it. Be happy that you were able to read what he did write. Publishers and writers who do this are trying to “Cash in” on somebody else’s hard work. There should be a law against it! Can you imagine some idiot trying to carry on for Agatha Christie? I first became aware of this with the people who tried to cash in on Robert Ludlum’s name and fame. What garbage they put out! So there you have it from me. The answer is NO!
Carole: I have no problem with another writer continuing a series. The important thing is that the writer writes the same way as the person who passed away. If I have enjoyed the writings of a particular author I want the new person to continue in the same vein. Do not mess with success.
Jerry: Vince Flynn did such a great job in creating the Mitch Rapp character. His passing was a crushing blow to me because I thought Rapp, one of my all time favorite heroes would die with him. I’ll wait to pass judgment on Kyle Mills’ effort until I’ve read ‘The Survivor’. However, I’m rooting for him to do a good job. Even though the singer is gone it’s important that the song goes on. I’m sure Vince Flynn would have felt that way.
Oswaldo: i love the Mitch Rapp series, by VINCE FLYNN. I have read all the books in the series and being that i am an avid reader and book collector. I have the entire series in my book collection. I love the Mitch Rapp character. Sadly with the passing of Mr. VINCE FLYNN, i was left with not only the sadness of knowing that one of my favorite writers was gone, but not knowing what was gonna happen to ,Mitch . I was browsing Amazon the other day and i see a new Mitch Rapp book. I became very happy. I think the late VINCE FLYNN loved Mitch Rapp to much to not be happy to see that his creation would not die and live on .I am definitely looking forward to the book and i am very happy to see the series continue.
Kimo: I would continue reading the series if the new author(s) writes in the same fashion ás the original author; also if I enjoy the book very much, then yes again I would continue buying & reading the series.
SK: “Dead authors” series continuations (especially those of well-known writers of 20th/21st century) have the unsavory tang of someone trying to make money off the dead.I’m fine with those who write ” in the style of” such as Jane Austen -philes , and there are a few others, but they acknowledge themselves as such- and usually with a quirk or twist to differentiate themselves from the original. Unless the author collaborated with an author before his/her demise, then, in my opinion, we wind up with coat-tail writers whose work never matches up to the original. I read widely (retired AP English teacher), so I have sampled a fair number of this style. “I prefer not.”
Lewis: I will give a new author one chance to pick up where a deceased author left off. In the Mitch Rapp series, which I especially love, I have to give Mills a chance, though I have never heard of him, we’ll see. Others, Clancy, Ludlum, yes, if I enjoyed the characters in previous books, I would give them all a chance at success. Patterson has many co-authors and most of his books are darn good. He however gets away with putting a book out with only 335 pages, some less, which is less bang for my entertainment dollar. His character of Stone Barrington books could go on for more chapters, but I guess he doesn’t care, he simply carries on the story..ie soap opera, to the next short book…I’m just saying!
Jean: Having just today discovered your excellent site, I am very impressed with it And your monthly newsletter. (1) Thanx for “steering” me to Oliver SACKS’ books, I’ll be looking for his at my library. (2) reading “dead authors”, their books “stand the test of time” and can be re-read. Some estates have enlisted others to carry on and those books are worth exploring. Best example is Robert B. Parker, his Spenser and Jesse Stone series. (3) I like your notation of whether series are best read in order or if they “stand alone”.
Susanne: Thank you, for making a list of authors that have written series, and having them in order! I hate getting into a book then finding out I have to find the sequel! I can grab a book look it up and right there I will know if it is a sequel. The whole idea of a book being written after an author has passed on is definitely a case by case. Some series can be written with a similar story line the author really tries to follow the original story line but some authors that try to carry on a series ruins it. It case by case and reader by reader, some may like how the new author puts a new twist in it and some may not! Again thank you for your awesome website! Look forward to the future, newsletters!
Jim: Concerning Mills trying to continue Larsson’s Trilogy: I will read “The Survivor” only because I’m hoping it’s possible for someone to accomplish the task. But like you said, “Remember the Bourne attempt”.
Kate: authors who pass away taking their characters with them: It is difficult to judge as the ‘new’ author really has to know the characters. If he/she does I am happy. I can remember how upset I was when Stuart Kaminsky died and with him Rostnikov. I really loved that series.
Donna: I’m generally okay with it. If I liked the originals, I usually give the new writer a try. So far, I haven’t been terribly disappointed – but the newest Tom Clancy knockoff hasn’t gotten much positive feedback. I haven’t read it yet, and will make my own judgment as usual. As for the Vince Flynn/Kyle Mills question, Mills is an established writer in his own right (and a good one); the question in this case will be whether he can shift literary gears enough to channel Flynn sufficiently – at least in my opinion.
Terry: If an author dies that writes a series I like I will most certainly try to read the new person’s contribution to see if I feel comfortable moving on with them at the writer’s desk. So it would be a case by case basis.
Jeanne: The first book I remember reading after the death of an Author, Margaret Mitchell, was a disappointing flop. The Steig Larsson wanna be just didn’t have it. I did not know that Vince Flynn had died. He had just hit his stride, and no I probably will not give the next guy a chance.