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Novel, meet World; World, meet Novel

Walking Dead goes on sale today in North America. It starts in the Republic of Georgia and ends in British Columbia. It moves from Turkey to Dubai to Amsterdam to Las Vegas. Alena Cizkova and Bridgett Logan are major players. Lots of guns get pointed at lots of different people, and more than a few of the latter end up very unhappy.

It’s not an easy sensation to describe, actually, putting a novel out into the world. The parenting metaphor has been abused to death, and with good reason — there is very much a sense of letting go of something very precious, releasing it into the Big Wide World with all of its wonder and gnashing teeth, and hoping that it will survive, and, perhaps, even thrive.

I’ve been pondering why I write a lot lately, and I tend to come back to the same default: I write because I tell stories, and writing is the medium by which I can most readily accomplish that goal. Or, to rephrase, I am a storyteller, and thus I write.

Which is half an answer, certainly honest enough, but not complete. The fact is, I write because I have to, I don’t know how to not. Either you suffer from the compulsion or you don’t, but it is a compulsion, an addiction, as terrible and terrifying as nicotine or caffeine or any other substance that can get the blood racing and the adrenaline flowing. There is a thrill to writing. I’m something of a junkie.

Walking Dead was a very difficult novel to tell, but not a difficult novel to write, if that distinction means anything. The subject matter, as I found myself researching it, was horrifying at the outset, and only became more so. There’s nothing pretty to be found in the reality of slavery, and while I am always aware that I write fiction, it matters to me that my fictions retain some sense of groundedness in the Real World (patent pending).

A bookseller I know recently opined that I’d written this novel not so much because of the characters but because of that subject matter. He was mistaken. I always have, and always will, write character stories, because, to me, that’s the only story that matters. But the character is a window to the world, and the view out that window, in my opinion, must be on something worth viewing, no matter how sordid, awful, and painful that may be. If I raise the level of awareness, no matter how slightly, so much the better, but my goal is always, first and foremost, to entertain in the telling. I leave it to my betters to relate the facts; I am content to wrestle with Art in an attempt to tell a truth.

For fans of the series, Walking Dead marks the end of a journey that began in Critical Space, which, according to my website, I apparently wrote back in 2001. That’s a long trip to take, but, in retrospect, it makes sense. For Atticus, this is the novel of his reckoning, the story in which he is forced to reconcile the man he has become with the man he once was. His success in this endeavor I will leave to the reader to decide, but I am content with the way his journey has ended.

At least for the time being.

Once again, I urge people to take a look at the Appearances page at my website if you’re interested in attending a signing and hearing me speak. And, as stated before in the blog, if you’re after a signed and/or personalized copy of the novel and cannot attend any of the signings, you should certainly consider contacting one of the booksellers listed to request a copy.

42 Responses to Novel, meet World; World, meet Novel

  1. coppervale

    Congratulations, man. New Book Day is always a great happening.

  2. sixteenbynine

    I’m set to check it out, since both me and the missus are fans.

    About the whole “I write because I want to / must” thing — something I could probably expand into a whole essay on my own, but here goes — I see it this way. I write for all the reasons at once: because I want to, because I have to, and because I can.

    I want to, because it’s a thrill all the way through — just thinking about it, the actual doing of it, and the look that crosses other people’s faces when they pick up the finished thing and seem to be saying Wow, this looks awesome.

    I have to, because if I don’t, I feel like I’m doing myself an injustice to myself — I have this thing I’m not sharing or exercising, and that’s a crime against my own spirit.

    I do it because I can, because there is so much crap writing out there (no, not yours included), that I need to do all I can to change those odds.

    I suspect there are a galaxy of reasons, with no one of them being the “true” one, and with each of the others waxing and waning in the heat of any given moment.

  3. davidwynne

    Ordered my copy off amazon today. Although, slightly worried now, as you’re anly mentioning north America, and I’m far and away across the sea in Blighty. D’you know if it’s out over here too?

  4. thatnickguy

    Speaking as a writer who got their first piece of writing officially published for the first time this year (just a short story), I congratulate you. Though I certainly don’t know what the feeling is to have a full novel sent out to the public. I’m hoping to change that.

    Not to sound like a butt kisser, but I consider you one of my favourite writers, both in comic and novel form. Just the other night, I brought Whiteout and Melt, along with the two Q&C definitive books (still need to buy the other two) to bed with me for my nightly “flip through a comic ’til I fall asleep” routine. I’ve been talking about Whiteout to my friends and online for awhile now. By far, it’s my most anticipated movie this year, for me.

    Though I doubt you remember, you actually gave me a highlight in my life that I still look back fondly on. I was working for Avis and you had called to renew your rental (I THINK it was SD Comic Con time). I had said you were my first celebrity phone call, which you replied humbly, “I’m hardly a celebrity”. I was…well…maybe a bit too fanboyish (and this long post probably cements that further), but it still made my night.

    It’s a shame that you won’t be touring Toronto way. Still, congratulations on yet another novel being put out. How long did it take you to write this, roughly? Including maybe research/brainstorming?

  5. lithera

    Congrats.

    I’m looking forward to getting my copy soon.

  6. tmcm

    congrats on the book. The way you’ve talked about it has made me really want to give it a read.

    Why that title though? Isn’t there a popular zombie comic with that name? Is there a relation?

  7. puffchrissy

    Congratulations with the book. And best of luck!

  8. admin

    I titled the new novel Walking Dead because — as with all of my titles — I found it a phrase with multiple points of relevance to the work. Those who read it will likely see where the phrase is applicable, not even including the moment in the text where a character actually speaks the words to Atticus.

  9. admin

    So YOU’RE thatnickguy!!! I remember that phone call, and I maintain my response to you, sir!

    Delighted to make the connection, and to know you’re still reading and enjoying my stuff. That’s very cool, indeed.

    Won’t be up in Toronto, not for the show nor for the book. The “tour” – such as it is – consists of Portland, Seattle, San Mateo/San Francisco, and Phoenix/Scottsdale.

    Cheers!

  10. admin

    I’m looking forward to you reading it!

  11. admin

    Shouldn’t pose a problem – I suspect they’ll just bleed you on the shipping!

  12. admin

    If not, in some ways, daunting. ;)

  13. jonlaw

    The book is in the mail to me. I already know that I will be sucked in completely, even with the hard subject matter (or perhaps because of it). You are never afraid to go where your conscience and characters lead you.

    Congratulations on another milestone in a journey that is still just beginning. I expect to have a library of your work before your or I are done.

    Be seeing you.

  14. tmcm

    Sounds cool. I’m looking forward to reading it!

  15. thatnickguy

    Wow, and you remember it? *waves a hand over his face* I’m all verklempt! Talk amongst yourselves.

    Funny enough, if memory serves right, I had one of your novels at my desk that night, too. I want to say Critical Space, but it could’ve been Shooting at Midnight.

    But I still maintain my own comment. You’re a novelist, comic book writer, been interviewed in magazines and websites and soon to have a movie adaptation. How is that not some form of celebrity?

  16. packetslave

    Loved it

    Amazon delivered it to my Kindle at 12:06am this morning and I finished it at 7:43am. Loved it, as I have all of the books, but have to confess to being a little sad at some of Atticus’s choices in regards to tying up the loose ends of his former life. I shall avoid spoilers for now and leave it at that.

    Still, a stellar new book and any day I can bring Atticus and Alena out to play in my head some more is a good day.

  17. kei87

    Can’t wait to check it out, especially since I’ve always enjoyed your more political (is that the right word) works. Your Queen and Country story about Afghanistan still gives me chills.

    Coincidentally, I was just assigned George Saunder’s “The New Mecca” about Dubai for a creative writing class. It’s well-written, but it’s such a love letter to a fake place that I’ve struggled to get through it. Ever since I read an article in The Independent I’ve never been able to look at Dubai without cringing.

    Regardless, I’m looking forward to your take on it.

  18. admin

    Re: Loved it

    You have no idea how flattering it is to hear that you’ve already finished it, and that’s only made better by the fact that you liked it so much.

    And I have to say, that Kindle thing is kinda terrifying and cool all at once. 12:06 am? Damn, that’s PROMPT!

  19. admin

    The two Dubais terrify me, each for their own reasons. The more you learn about what’s been required to create the glass and gloss, the more sickening it is, in my opinion.

    That said, I’m not at all certain it’s that terribly difference from so man other cities around the world. There just aren’t that many that I can think of where the contrast is so strongly drawn.

  20. jmorse

    Re: Loved it

    I’m an avid reader and have to put in a recommendation for the Kindle 2. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it but once I started to use it I fell in love. You MUST get one of these. You forget all about the medium you’re using and get lost in the story in no time at all.

    Greg, please push your publisher to put all your books on the damn thing. A fair bit of your catalog is missing and I’m sitting here waiting to buy em up.

  21. nweinham

    Just ordered it online at Powells.com: https://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9780553804744-0 Very much looking forward to it! Also, since I don’t access alternative news sources as often as I should, I learn a lot from your characters’ windows. What you’re interested in is interesting. Keep it up! Congratulations and thanks for giving in to your compulsion to write!

  22. will_eslinger

    Lee Child’s

    Finished Walking Dead, it’s my favorite Kodiak novel overall (although I think that the best section of any of the books is still the second person interlude in Critical Space)

    But now I have a problem, I need another series of bad-ass, well researched thrillers. From your guys’ experience, would Lee Child’s main series satiate my desire for another Kodiak-esque adventure?

  23. jmorse

    Re: Lee Child’s

    Will,

    I’ve read all the Lee Child books and enjoyed them. I think you’ll really like them if you like Greg’s work.

    That being said, I find the Rucka books to be a lot more fulfilling. I’m invested deeply in the characters, whereas in the Child books the main guy is pretty much the only one that remains from book to book. It seems much more formulatic (is this a word?)then the Atticus series is.

    I can’t see Jack Reacher (Lee Child’s protagonist) being a real life guy, whereas I can totally see Atticus being a realistic person.

    I dunno, maybe what it all comes down to is I’ve never broken down and cried like a little girl in a Jack Reacher book. Greg has made me do so several times.

    I feel as if I know these people and have been friends with some of them since Keeper first was released in hardcover years ago.

  24. jmorse

    So I went to Borders Books today to pick up my copy and the book wasn’t on the display in front where the new releases were placed. I went to the mystery section shelf to grab my copy (1 of 2) and paid for it. As I did so I expressed my displeasure to the manager. It upsets me that a quality author isn’t given the same merit as some of the other crap that had a spot on the display.

  25. brigantia_65

    Novel is fabulous!! Picked it up at lunch today then made my car partner do all the work while I devoured every word. I think this has to be a new reading speed record for me.

    Thanks for another great one!

  26. jmorse

    Just finished it myself. Great job on this one, Greg. I’ll need to reread it in a couple days to really let it soak in.

    Thanks very much.

    The afterward mentions a new thriller in 2010. Is this a Q&C story or something different? Any hints?

  27. lunatic96

    thumbs up!

    Bought the book this afternoon and while I was planning on just reading a few chapters and starting work on my history paper, I read the entire thing. Definitely one of my favorites from you, although I think I still have Critical Space ranked slight above it. I would say more, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

  28. jmorse

    I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed the banter between Atticus and Bridgett.

  29. lunatic96

    Pretty sure it’s a new Q&C novel, I believe he mentioned something about having to get it to the publishers by September.

  30. admin

    Glad you liked it!

    The next one is a Q&C, yes, should be out mid-2010. Working title is “The Last Run.”

  31. admin

    Re: thumbs up!

    Excellent! Delighted you like it!

  32. dewline

    I remember the piece on the whale shark tank in the hotel on CBC Radio One’s show The Current from a few weeks ago. (Scroll down to Part Three for “Free Sammy”.)

    Disturbing.

  33. jared465

    This is frustrating!

    So I decided to forego ordering from Amazon because I was going to be out of town last week on vacation, and thought I might come across WD at a store and i could read it while away. I ended up not seeing it, so I went out today back @ home and ended up finding out that only one store in the whole Buffalo area had gotten one copy – and it wasn’t sold out (which y’know, would have been good news) none of the stores had gotten it yet. (and we are talking 10 or so mainstream shops like Borders and B and N – i don’t really have a cool specialty shop here in Buf). Distribution issues like that makes me wonder what impact they could have on the 1st week sales you talked about being so important…..oh well. i’m off to get that one copy……

  34. fluidbeauty

    Powerful

    Wow. Finished it last night, sacrificing some much-needed sleep. You didn’t play fair, and I couldn’t stop till I was done.

    I read it with anticipation and trepidation because I had to know what happened and yet I didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters. Finder is still one of my favorite books of all time. (thus my question about Erika’s fate a few months back).

    However there’s no sadness as I leave the characters, you’re right it’s a good end for them.

    I have some more spoilery thoughts, but I just wanted to thank you for creating characters that have meant so much to me and for following them and your conviction into some difficult places to try and make the world listen to some injustices. Hope you get to sneak a break in for yourself every now and then.

    I’m going to miss them, but I’m better for having known them.

  35. will_eslinger

    Second Read, Second Person Question???????

    I should have been studying for my Calculus exam, but with boredom on the mind and a broken Xbox I decided last night to go ahead and re-read Walking Dead. I don’t usually re-read books, and if I do, it’s years after a first reading, but what the hell I thought. “Lone Survivor” can wait.

    I didn’t like the book any less the second time, but the wonder of a first read through was, naturally, lost this time.

    But I digress, my question for you Greg, is what prompted you to leave a second-person section out of Walking Dead. In Critical Space and Patriot Acts, the second person sections were my favorite parts, and I can’t lie and say that I didn’t feel a bit disappointing that Walking Dead was bereft of such a section.

    But, you’re the writer and I’m the reader, so I’m not going to complain because the book was straight-up bad ass, but still, any insight into that decision would be great.

  36. will_eslinger

    I got mine day one at my B&N, it was in the mystery section, not the new releases. But the girl that helped me was cute and just a bit older than me, so I didn’t complain.

  37. admin

    Re: Second Read, Second Person Question???????

    Y’know, it really came down to simply not finding a place or a need to use that particular tool for the story. While I’ve been fond of that 2nd person usage, I tend to approach it carefully – used wrong, or over-used, I think it can backfire.

    There’s a similar device in the book, however, when Atticus relays Alena’s narrative of the journey from Kobuleti to Odessa. I’m fond of that section, simply because I like the ability it gives him, as narrator, to editorialize on what she’s saying, and thus what it reveals about each of them.

    Glad the second read held up!

  38. admin

    Re: Powerful

    These are very kind words, and are much appreciated.

    And if I didn’t play fair, it was only in pursuit of the story, trite as that may sound.

  39. admin

    Re: This is frustrating!

    Yeah, for you and me both.

    Not happy to hear this, but I have to confess that I’m not surprised, either.

  40. davidwynne

    It came last week, along with a copy of Keeper, since this is the first time I’ve got around to your prose (being a huge fan of your comics, I’ve been meaning to read your novels for years now; it was your previewing of the first five chapters of WD here that tipped me over).

    I finished Keeper yesterday, and started WD last night.

    Keeper is just… magnificent. And WD has me shaking from over-adrenalisation. Fuck me, I thought your comics were good…

  41. admin

    Wow! That’s incredibly flattering of you to say, man — thank you so much!

  42. altonralsotn

    finished it last night

    Greg,

    I finally finished WD last night. I bought an advance copy in February on Ebay and my wife got to read it first while I have been commuting. It is a wonderful continuation of the best series I’ve ever read. You’re my favorite author of all time. I was bragging to my mother today about your writing. Although I cannot fathom the series continuing in its present state, if you could find a way to keep it in continuity, I’d read it. Thank you for making me laugh out loud every other page. My wife thinks I am weird every night as the tears flow from my eyes. Thanks Greg,

    Alton

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