NEW blog post from Dean on writing and narrating introductions for the new John D. MacDonald audiobook collection!


A couple of weeks ago, I went to a recording studio to read short introductions that I had done for the Audible audiobook versions of eight John D. MacDonald novels. The late John D was arguably the greatest author of popular fiction in the 20th century; and his work is better than most of what passes for “literary” fiction. If I had to name two novelist heroes, Dickens and John D would make that short list. Therefore, being asked to write those introductions and read them in front of a microphone was not a chore; it was an honor.

I’ve often heard it said that everyone, upon hearing a recording of his voice, thinks he sounds absurd. I don’t believe this can be true. When James Earl Jones listens to himself as Darth Vader or in any of the many TV commercials that he has done, I’m sure he doesn’t obsess over the idea that he sounds like Donald Duck. I, on the other hand, do indeed sound like Donald Duck doing an imitation of Miss Piggy. The recording experience would have been an embarrassment if I didn’t trust the people at the studio to electronically enhance my voice to make me sound as eloquent and seductive as Cary Grant.

I’m pretty sure they can do that. In fact, after meeting their dog, I think they could do just about anything to which they put their minds. He’s a gangly, 60-pound mixed breed with an adorable face, rescued through the auspices of Best Friends, in Utah. His name is Rhubarb, Rhu for short, and though he is afflicted with a condition that makes it impossible for him to support himself on his own legs, he’s as happy as any dog that can run full tilt. His owners–parents, guardians, take your pick–have devised a wheeled cart in which Rhu is slung, legs dangling, paws protected by rubber booties. When they take him for a walk, he paddles his legs as if convinced that he is propelling himself, and his joy is palpable. Check him out at

One of the great things about John D. MacDonald’s suspenseful and often dark fiction is that it properly celebrates the virtues that make civilization possible and eschews the nihilism that lies at the heart of so many contemporary novels. Furthermore, in every MacDonald story, there are moments of quiet grace that reveal the human heart redeemed and the world as it was meant to be. In his body of work, there are no recording-studio owners with a dog like Rhu; but if he had ever met them, he would eventually have written characters based on them, for his books are rich with the details of real life, alive with the diversity of human experience, in the service of a philosophical point of view that celebrates truth and comes down solidly on the side of goodness, kindness.

Check out DEAD LOW TIDE, CAPE FEAR, A FLASH OF GREEN, A KEY TO THE SUITE, SLAM THE BIG DOOR, and other John D. MacDonald novels available from Audible as audiobooks. I have no doubt that you’ll be glad you did.

– Dean

Click here to learn more about the collection!

SAINT ODD is coming…

…January 13, 2015!

The end is his beginning.

Odd Thomas is back where it all started . . . because the time has come to finish it. Since he left his simple life in the small town of Pico Mundo, California, his journey has taken him to places strange and wonderful, mysterious and terrifying. Across the land, in the company of mortals and spirits alike, he has known kindness and cruelty, felt love and loss, saved lives and taken them—as he’s borne witness to humanity’s greatest good and darkest evil. Again and again, he has gone where he must and done what he had to do—for better or worse—with his courage and devotion sorely tested, and his soul forever changed. Every triumph has been hard won. Each sacrifice has taken its toll.

Now, whatever destiny drives him has finally steered his steps home, where those he cares for most surround him, the memory of his tragically lost true love haunts him, and one last challenge—vast and dreadful—awaits him. For Odd Thomas, born to serve a purpose far greater than himself, the wandering is done. Only the reckoning remains.

Learn more about SAINT ODD!

THE CITY is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audio!

Happy pub day to Dean! THE CITY is now available in hardcover, ebook, and audio!

It’s not where we live, it’s the people we live for.

Here is the riveting, soul-stirring story of Jonah Kirk, son of an exceptional singer, grandson of a formidable “piano man,” a musical prodigy beginning to explore his own gifts when he crosses a group of extremely dangerous people, with shattering consequences. Set in a more innocent time not so long ago, The City encompasses a lifetime but unfolds over three extraordinary, heart-racing years of tribulation and triumph, in which Jonah first grasps the electrifying power of music and art, of enduring friendship, of everyday heroes.

The unforgettable saga of a young man coming of age within a remarkable family, and a shimmering portrait of the world that shaped him, The City is a novel that speaks to everyone, a dazzling realization of the evergreen dreams we all share. Brilliantly illumined by magic dark and light, it’s a place where enchantment and malice entwine, courage and honor are found in the most unexpected quarters, and the way forward lies buried deep inside the heart.

Click here to start reading THE CITY.

Dean explains how he got the idea for THE CITY!

I can often tell you where the idea for a book came from, but one thing that I like most about this work is when the source of a story is entirely mysterious, when it blossoms in my head with no evident inspiration. For instance, last year I sat down to write a little piece to be released as an e-story to promote Innocence. It would have a tie of some kind to that novel, most likely just that it took place in the same city as the longer story.

For some reason, as I sat at the keyboard to noodle around, I decided that the lead character would be a piano man and that the story would open with him telling you his name, which would be Jonah, and that something astonishing had happened to him as a child. I typed instead, “My name is Jonah Ellington Basie Hines Eldridge Wilson Hampton Armstrong Kirk,” which became the first sentence of Chapter One. Why he should have so many names, I didn’t know, though being a fan of jazz and especially of big-band swing, I recognized the names that I was typing. Without hesitation, I continued: “From as young as I can remember, I loved the city. Mine is a story of love reciprocated.” And I was on my way.

Days later, the story had grown to such an extent that I knew it was in fact going to be a novel and that it would be titled The City. I found myself putting in long hours at the keyboard, but the work sessions seemed brief, ten hours passing as if they collapsed into one. The developments in the story continually delighted and astonished me. Where was this coming from?

My friend Joe Stefko, who is a rock ‘n’ roll drummer, has played with Frank Zappa and with Meatloaf and, for some years now, with the Turtles. He says that when he’s at his performance best, when other musicians say afterward, “That was amazing,” he doesn’t remember what he did. He says that on those occasions, he goes (mentally) somewhere apart from the venue where he plays and, “I just get out of my own way.” I liked that description of the experience. In writing The City and certain other books, I have sometimes gotten out of my own way, and what ends up on the page seems miraculous to me. I can’t command it to happen; the control isn’t mine. And the story idea seems to explode from nothing, like a universe being born. Weird. And wonderful.

– Dean

P.S. Thanks for making Deeply Odd New York Times bestseller in paperback! And don’t forget that Odd is coming back (for the last time!) in Saint Odd this December.

Dean on the first reader of his manuscripts: his wife, Gerda!

Gerda, my wife and first reader of my manuscripts, is an honest critic of my work, and a good one. For years, the male ego being what it is, I listened to her thoughts on a script, generally expressed my disagreements with her suggestions—but then went into my office and quietly fixed things according to her observations before sending the book off to my editor. Eventually, I grew up and learned to acknowledge the wisdom of her suggestions at the time she made them.

When she finished reading the manuscript of THE CITY, she came into my office and said, “I think this is the first time I’ve ever said a book is perfect in every scene.” I expressed my concern that she was trying to spare my feelings. “No,” she said, “when it comes to your writing, sweetie, I don’t care about your feelings, only about the book.” Later, at dinner, when I pressed her to tell me what shereally thought, she said, “This pasta is delicious, isn’t it?” When I asked again as we were about to brush our teeth to go to bed, she said, “Have you flossed?” I almost woke her in the middle of the night to pose the question once more, but our dog, Anna, sleeping at the foot of the bed, growled softly as though with psychic awareness of what I was about to do. In the morning, when I asked again, Gerda said, “Have I ever not said what I mean?”

She is the most straight-forward and honest person I’ve ever known, so I said, “I’m an idiot.” She said, “Have you always known, or is this a new realization on your part?” I’ve always known.

– Dean

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