Linda Pendleton, widow of EXECUTIONER author Don Pendleton, has posted a lengthy interview with my friend Richard S. Prather on her website. Here’s an excerpt about his unpublished 1000-page Shell Scott manuscript THE DEATH GODS:
It’s packed in a box in my closet, and is the completed but still
somewhat messy original yellow-page manuscript that I started writing more than
a decade ago. It turned out to be the longest Shell Scott mystery I’ve
ever written, which, if eventually published, would be #41 in the series.
And it hasn’t been published because it has never been submitted to any
publisher for publication.
Why not? Well, for a lot of reasons that make sense to me, and
may—or may not—make sense to you, Linda. We’ll see.
For one thing, the author’s creative work (the fun part) is
finished, but the boring stuff remains to be done. Some of those
marked-up pages need to be fixed, some fussed with to smooth out rough spots,
before they’re all retyped or (these days) printed on 20-pound bond, or even
converted to computer-readable format on something like a Word for Windows
disk, whatever that is. Mainly, the whole manuscript needs to be checked
and updated because it took me so lo-ong to get from page 1 to The End.
After fairly speedily, and without significant interruption, writing 43
so-called “first drafts” (so-called because, as previously mentioned, I never wrote
a “second draft”), on this one–#44 overall and #41 in the Shell Scott
series—there were two long interruptions. I twice, for reasons
there’s no need to go into here, had to stop work entirely on the manuscript
before it was finished…stopped the first time for nearly three years, and the
second time for longer than that. Add it all together, including recent
years “on the shelf,” and that’s a lo-ong time.
During those years we’ve moved from the old Millennium into the new, and
the world has changed. Not just automobile models and computers and new
same-old politicians and a “new” war or two, but us, you and me. And I’ve
changed (as Damon Runyon used to say) more than somewhat. Part of that
change is: I no longer give a hoot whether The Death Gods is
published or not.
I no longer need my name on another book to make me feel like
(harking back to childhood) “I’m gonna be a writer,”
I’ve been there/done that—43 times.
[…]The bottom line is, I’m content to let those
1000+ pages rest unmolested in their box in the closet, while I sit here in my
kitchen-library reading lots of books written by other people, and listening to
the tweeting of happy birds optimistically screeching outside, where I scattered
birdseed in payment for their songs. And there’s no cut-off point for
them where there “ain’t no more,” not in this
house. I’ve got lots of birdseed, and I can’t eat it all
(Thanks to Roddy Reta and Mystery*File for the heads-up)