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Nature v. Nurture vol 1 (1)

NATURE V. NURTURE: A Greg Rucka Newsletter
Volume 1. Issue 1.

The very first it’s-about-time what-was-he-waiting-for-issue.
A GENTLEMAN’S GAME: The First Queen & Country Novel

The new novel, A Gentleman’s Game, is officially on sale as of September 28th. If you’re a real go-getter, you can order it in advance from your favorite bookstore, and have them hold you a copy. If you’re less inclined to plan so far in advance, you’ll be able to find the book—well, just about anywhere, or so Bantam assures me.

I’m very proud of this book. This is rare for me. Mostly, I fall into a deep pit of loathing and fear when a book is about to come out. But this one, this one is special, and it feels special. It feels different, for lack of a better phrase.

It’s a good book, that’s what I’m trying to tell you. I may even go so far as to claim it is a very good book, or perhaps, possibly, an excellent book.

In consultation with my glorious Webmaven (who is not only brilliant, but incredibly hot, and how many people can you say that about, really?), I’ve decided to continue the trend started with the release of A Fistful of Rain—you guessed it, another contest.

This one, however, won’t be so esoteric. No having to go through the Greg Rucka canon in search of a single detail to answer a question. Nothing like that. This will be simple. Straightforward. Easy, even.

Here’s how it works: A Gentleman’ s Game goes on sale on September 28th in a glorious hardcover edition suitable for framing, or, better yet, reading. If you purchase the book prior to October 15th, 2004, and mail proof of that purchase—meaning the dated receipt for the book—to me, you will receive, automatically, an originally designed bookplate, signed and numbered by yours truly. This will be a one of a kind item, only available through this contest, and will feature original art by Steve Rolston, one of the Queen & Country comic artists.

I’ll say it again: send me the receipt proving you purchased the novel prior to October 15th, 2004, PLUS your name and mailing address (print clearly) and you automatically will receive the bookplate.

Additionally, if I receive your receipt prior to 10-31-04, you will be entered into a drawing for the following:

A complete set of the Queen & Country hardcover editions, covering the entire comic book series up to issue 24. The hardcovers are collectibles, and were made available to retailers on an initial order basis only. Several of the hardcovers are difficult, if not now impossible, to find. This set includes: Operation: Broken Ground (issues 1-4), Operation: Morningstar (issues 5-7), Operation: Crystal Ball (issues 8-12), Operation: Blackwall (issues 13-15), Operation: Storm Front (issues 16-20), and Operation: Dandelion (issues 21-25), as well as Queen & Country: Declassified Vol. 1.

We’ll be giving FIVE of these away. Five chances to win. The drawing will be conducted by my daughter Dashiell, and overseen by my son Elliot. Elliot is four and a half, so you know he’ll keep his seventeen month old sister in line.

That’s the contest. Win-win, from where I’m sitting, and I even get to clear some of the comps out of my basement. What could go wrong?

So, to recap, here’s the whole deal: Buy the new novel on or before 10-15-04. Mail the dated receipt, along with your name and address (printed out clearly, please), to me before 10-31-04. You will automatically receive the signed and numbered bookplate, and you will be entered into the drawing for the Q&C hardcover sets.

And the mailing address?

I Bought the Damn Novel Contest
(sorry, guys, the contest is long over)

And that’s all I want to say about that.


There was so much to say about the comics currently on the stands that my Webmaven balked at overstuffing the newsletter, so we compromised. Here are the highpoints; the details (and all cover art) can be found on the website.

Adventures of Superman #632—from DC Comics. Lois Lane got shot. (My Webmaven likes cliffhangers.)
Gotham Central #23—from DC Comics. A real cliffhanger; to be concluded in October’s #24.
Queen & Country #27—from Oni Press. This is second part of “Operation: Saddlebag.”
Queen & Country: Operation: Dandelion—from Oni Press. The trade paperback collection of issues 21-24.
Queen & Country Scriptbook—from Oni Press. Hailed as the “gold standard” of scriptbooks.
Wonder Woman #208—from DC Comics. “Stoned, Part Three of Five,” art by Drew Johnson.
Wonder Woman: Down to Earth—from DC Comics.
The trade paperback collecting my first six issues of Wonder Woman, 195-200, art by Drew Johnson.

All of these comic books are available at finer comic books stores everywhere. Don’t know where to find a comic book store? The Comic Shop Locator Service can help you out.

Trade paperbacks are available through comic book shops as well as any reasonably stocked book store, though you may have to ask them to special order. And, of course, you can find just about anything you want online.


Why am I calling this newsletter Nature v. Nurture?

If you follow my work, you’ve probably noted a couple of consistent themes, a few recurring conflicts that seem to replay again and again. This isn’t a big deal, and every single writer out there does it (and if you don’t believe me, read three P.D. James novels back-to-back, she’ll make the point for me). Some of these are themes that I’m aware of; some of them are entirely subconscious.

I once had an interviewer ask me, shortly after Shooting at Midnight was published, what it was I had against fathers and their daughters. When I yammered out a “wha?” he pointed out that, in three books in a row—Finder, Smoker, and Shooting, the plots all rotated around daughters in conflict with their fathers. If you lumped in my first novel, Keeper, and the very absent father in that one, I was four for four.

Never had even considered it, but he was right, it was there, and the best I could offer was that I had no idea myself, except that my own big sister has Down’s Syndrome, and my father has always loved her as absolutely as any of his other children, and no, I didn’t have any experience growing up that made me think Daddy didn’t love Baby Sister.

I just didn’t know it was there, and I sure as hell couldn’t explain where it had come from.

But Nature versus Nurture, oh, man, I’ve been struggling with that one since I started scribbling stories out longhand while sitting in the back of English class during high school. Over and over again I come back to it, either directly or indirectly. In comics, my whole run on Elektra revolved around the question. In novels, it’s the heart of Critical Space. Well, one of the hearts, at any rate.

And it has always been a consistent part of Queen & Country, both in the novel and in the comics. And it rears its ugly head again in A Gentleman’s Game.

Why? I’m really not sure. It’s like asking me why I write about female protagonists more often than male ones. I can give you a glib answer, and I can try to give you a serious one after that, but in the end, I don’t really know. I am fascinated by the struggle between ourselves and our better angels. I look at stories about murderers and wonder how they got that way. I look at the world and at politics, and I wonder if the behavior I see is hard-wired in, or if it’s a choice, or if it’s both, or neither.

And I wonder if people can change. If the professional assassin can actually walk away from a life drenched in blood and find redemption, or if she’s condemned to that path for the rest of her life. If the spy who burns out his soul committing horrible atrocities so that we can sleep safe at night thinks it’s a fair trade, or if there’s a way to survive the job without losing himself in darkness.

I wonder about our natures as human beings, and whether or not William Golding was correct, and it’s all Lord of the Flies.

I don’t expect to find an answer. But each time I write a story about it, I get to try again to understand it. Sometimes I think I’m close. Sometimes, I figure it’s a wash and I should just give it up.

But I know I’ll keep coming back to it in the end.

That’s all for now. As the TELEX used to say, MESSAGE ENDS.

Be safe.