I've got some good news: Amazon has ordered 12 more books in the DEAD MAN series…in digital, print and audio…on top of the 12 that they ordered back in September. That will keep the monthly series of original novellas going into 2013 (book #9, CARNIVAL OF DEATH, comes out in a few weeks).
And, even more amazing, the news came almost to the day that Bill Rabkin and I self-published FACE OF EVIL, the first DEAD MAN tale, one year ago this month. Last February, I had the silly fantasy that Amazon would see the potential of the series and become our publisher…little did I know how quickly that dream would come true.
But I owe that to a series of events that began in an "Introduction To TV Writing" class I was teaching at UCLA back in 2007. One of my students was a guy named Mike Daniels. The goal of the class was for students to leave with a solid outline that they could use to write their first spec script in the "Introduction to Screenwriting" class. But it was clear to me that Mike was far too talented to be wasting his time writing an outline…he should go to script now. So asked I him to continue participating in class, but to start writing the script and share his pages with me on the side. He did.
By the end of the term, he'd turned out a brilliant RESCUE ME spec…and, if memory serves, a spec pilot script as well. At the end of that last class, I told him he was as good, if not better, than most TV writers that I knew and to stop wasting his time taking classes…he was ready to conquer the TV biz.
And he did.
Within a year, he was on staff of ONE TREE HILL. Today, he's married to one of the actresses from the show and a producer on SONS OF ANARCHY.
What does all of this have to do with THE DEAD MAN?
Not long after our class was over, Mike asked me if I'd read an unpublished novel that his brother James had written. James was a lawyer, but on the side he also narrated books for Brilliance Audio. I agreed, with more than a little hesitation, to read the book. Much to my surprise, I really liked the book…it was clear he had enormous talent…but the story needed a lot of work. I suggested some revisions to the opening chapters, which James made, and then referred the book to my agent. She saw the potential too and took him on…and although she wasn't able to sell the book, I never forgot it or how talented he was. When the DEAD MAN came along, I asked him if he wanted to write one. He did…and the book turned out to be RING OF KNIVES, the second in our series.
When RING OF KNIVES came out, James told all of his friends at Brilliance Audio about the book…and when they read it, they thought that it, and the other books in the series, would make great audiobooks.
Since Brilliance is owned by Amazon, word about their interest in the series soon filtered up to the editors at Amazon Encore and Thomas & Mercer…who called me about the print rights.
And you know how the rest of the story goes…
But the capper is that James, and his brother Luke, are narrating the audiobooks (James narrates his books, Luke narrates all of the others). Is that just too perfect?
Anyway, this all goes to show how everything is connected…and that you have no idea how something you do today could pay off in unexpected, unimagined ways years from now.