I hope you enjoy Devoted. The novel is scary, but not so scary you’ll need a bed to hide under, and even in its darkest moments, it’s full of hope. Although the bad guy might be the creepiest I‘ve come up with since Intensity, there are also a boy named Woody and a special dog who, together, stole my heart. Don’t worry: it wasn’t the one in my chest, but the one I keep in a jar next to my computer. Take a look at the video below to learn more.
Orson Bean, who died last week in a tragic accident, was kind, charming, whip smart, and wonderfully witty, but what I found most admirable about him was that, for someone of his accomplishments, he was unfailingly humble. Many years ago now, at our housewarming party at our current residence, Orson’s lovely wife, Alley, insisted on taking care of our dog, Trixie, for an hour or so, to free us to more easily mingle with friends, and as she led Trixie around the party, Orson could be seen chatting up everyone who crossed his path, not as a celebrity basking in their attention, but because he took a genuine interest in everyone he met, though none of them were in the entertainment business. Everyone who met him called us later to say how special he was, how sweet. Indeed, he was. Not long ago, he sent us the video of a recent one-man show; time had bestowed a late-autumn grace on him, and he was as amusing as ever. Our lives didn’t cross much, and neither of us was an industrious correspondent, yet I have a file of notes and letters between us, which I read through after the news of his passing. He always signed off “love” or “xxx,” and there was no affectation in this, only true affection, for he was a lover of the world and of humanity, and it’s a darker world without him.
I’m delighted that writer Jeff Davis and producer Josh Berman are developing Strangers for a TV series at Fox. Jeff gets the book to an extent that those in film have not gotten my work before, and he has a brilliant idea of where the series would go after the first season, if we’re fortunate enough to make it that far. His pitch knocked me out. After Josh revived me, I agreed to work with them. Given Jeff’s and Josh’s track records and intelligence, I expect to love this show. If I don’t. . . well, I will fit my dog, Elsa, with wicked steel “vengeance dentures” and send her into the night, which seems appropriate, especially in Jeff’s case, as he created Teen Wolf.
Somewhere during the writing of THE SILENT CORNER, I fell in love with Jane Hawk. Fortunately for my marriage, Jane is a fictional character. And many of her best qualities are modeled on those of my wife, Gerda——especially her indomitable nature, her take-no-crap attitude, and her tenderness. And, besides, it was like the love I might have had for an admired and adored sister, if I’d ever had a sister.
I’ll finish the third Jane Hawk novel next week, and though I’ve been with her every step of the way, I’m stunned by what she’s done and where she’s gone. And I’m so interested in where she’ll go next that I’ll probably start the fourth book the day after I finish the third, which I’ve never even contemplated doing before. Usually I take a month between books to drink a little Caymus cabernet sauvignon and contemplate the human condition. The Caymus is superb. The human condition——not so much.
Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas and holiday season from everyone here in Koontzland. Friends and neighbors and relatives have kindly gifted us with 864 pounds of candy, 621 pounds of cookies, 486 pounds of cake, 165 pounds of nuts, 94 pounds of cheese, and one box of marshmallow baby chicks with edible purple ribbons around their necks (from a cutting-edge, avant-garde friend who lives four months faster than the rest of us and is already at Easter). Because we are health conscious and because, nevertheless, we feel obliged to eat gifts given with such sincere affection, we will adjust our diet to avoid weight gain by giving up toast with breakfast and lettuce at all meals.
Ms. Elsa, who has now shared our home for five months, is celebrating her first Christmas with us. She was an assistance-dog trainee who didn’t quite make it through the program and had a “career change,” becoming a family dog. For sixteen months, she was raised by a prisoner who taught her a long series of basic commands——and how to whittle a pistol out of a bar of soap and blacken it with shoe polish——before she went from the stir to the Canine Companions for Independence center in Oceanside, California, for instruction by specialty trainers. She has no patience for wearing her Santa hat, prefers Johnny Mathis’s Christmas albums to those by either Vanilla Ice or Sid Vicious, and is highly suspicious of the authenticity of the Santa Claus at the mall (she’s launched an Internet petition to force him to reveal his birth certificate).
Happy New Year. Expect me to continue annoying you with a stream of books over the years to come. I’m having more fun than ever writing, having fallen in love with the character Jane Hawk, and I am currently writing the third novel featuring her. And by this time next year, I expect Elsa to be earning her keep as a research assistant or, as an alternative, putting her hard-learned prison smarts to work in a series of bank robberies.