What a summer! June was spent on the road, logging over six thousand miles on the BMW as we rode from Wyoming, through Canada, to Maine, where we attended the Gear Family Association’s tri-annual meeting and gave a presentation on writing about prehistory. From there we rode to Washington D.C. for the American Library Association meeting, then home to Wyoming just in time to catch a plane to New York. Yeah, we know. We had just been there. The tickets, however, were non-refundable.
Thrillerfest is the most productive writers’ conference in the country. Being held in New York, most of publishing’s movers and shakers—i.e. editors, agents, buyers, publishers, and press people—are present, easily accessible, and happy to spend quality time discussing the business and where it’s going.
After Thrillerfest we dove into revisions for FIRE THE SKY, the second book in the CONTACT series we’re writing for Pocket Books. At the same time we finished final revisions for THE DAWN COUNTRY, sequel to PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE. In addition to this we had to finger through our old contracts in an attempt to figure out what to do about the e-book situation. We have sole rights to many titles, some we share with publishers at different royalty rates, others must be “negotiated in good faith.” It’s a mess. While we all knew e-books were coming, no one knew how e-books were actually going to develop or what their impact would be.
September saw us loading up the BMW for a tour of the Southwest. Our first engagement was a lecture at Aztec National Monument, the large Anasazi site in northern New Mexico. Thirty-five miles south of Moab, Utah, a bearing disintegrated in the BMW’s rear drive. For the first time in forty-five years of riding we watched the bike towed away. A rental car took us to Santa Fe where we signed stock for B&N. Then to Aztec where we were honored to give our lecture in the Great Kiva, the only restored Anasazi structure in the world. Truly, it was an honor. The sacred character of that kiva has played a central role in many of our books and while we have been there many times, this is the first time we’ve been there at night. We had a wonderful audience. It was such a pleasure.
We signed stock in Sedona, Arizona, and for our good friend Andy at Arches Bookstore in Moab. Drove to Grand Junction, Colorado, and retrieved the fixed BMW, then signed more books at the Grand Junction Barnes & Noble. Great staff there!
Now we’re home, working on THE BROKEN LAND, the third book in the PEOPLE OF THE LONGHOUSE series. Why four books about the Iroquois? Because two young men and a far-sighted woman would develop the “League of Peace,” a concept that would change the entire world. The Iroquois confederacy would fundamentally shape “American democracy.” Later, based on Louis Henry Morgan’s League of the Iroquois, a German philosopher would pen a work called Das Kapital that would influence the development of Communism. So, there you have it. Out of a struggle for peace six hundred years ago in New York, New England, and Ontario, Canada, came the roots of the two competing political philosophies of the modern world. We want to give the story the time it deserves.
Meanwhile, COMING OF THE STORM is out in paperback. If you’ve been looking for it, and haven’t seen it on the shelves, you’re not alone. It’s pretty scarce. Like the every other business in America, times are tough in publishing right now, so hang onto your hats. We keep our fingers crossed every day.
February will see the release of FIRE THE SKY, the sequel to COMING OF THE STORM. If you’re into Black Shell, Pearl Hand, and the dog pack, you might want to preorder. We don’t know how many copies will be printed, or how they will be distributed. In FIRE THE SKY, Black Shell and Pearl Hand chase de Soto and his murderous army across Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Alabama. De Soto, however, has changed his tactics, figuring out that most of the Nations he visits are very civilized places. Instead of attacking, he relies on lies to ingratiate himself before taking the chiefs hostage. It all ends in a terrible battle at a walled town called Mabila...
March 15, 2011, will be a special day. Yes, history fans, we know. It’s the Roman ides of march, the day Caesar was stabbed in the Forum. (Actually, they stabbed him in the body—a lot of times. He only died in the Forum.) For us, however, March 15th will mark the publication of THE DAWN COUNTRY--our 50th published novel. THE DAWN COUNTRY continues the story of Odion, Tutelo, Koracoo, and Gonda as they hunt Gannajero and the remaining captive children through Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. In doing so they will ally with the Abenaki in a desperate attempt to bring Gannajero to justice. In the process a bond is forged between the characters that will influence the future of the Iroquois, and in the end, the world.
We are already reflecting on what the publication of THE DAWN COUNTRY means. Our fiftieth book is a milestone. We don’t write short category fiction. Our great love is epic historical novels that require in-depth research, complex characters, and intricate cultural reconstructions. With each new story we must challenge ourselves to challenge the reader. It’s been a lot of hard work and a constant battle to avoid falling back on formula. The payback was succinctly put to us at the Aztec lecture when an archaeologist asked, “How is it that you seem to ‘get it right’ long before the professional community does?” Actually, some of it is luck, brought about by looking at the data from outside the box. The rest, though, is that we have the luxury of testing archaeological theories in a living breathing fictional world. Often, theories don’t work. The ones that do, however, become the heart of our plots. Then we mold our characters actions to the archaeological record.
We would have been proud to author fifty novels of any kind. But looking back, we’re especially happy to have been able to write about the extraordinary prehistoric peoples that inspire and inform our own lives.
And there’s so much more to write about. Archaeology never sleeps…we’re learning more every day.
Thank you all for supporting our work over the years. Hopefully we will continue to produce the kind of fiction that challenges, entertains, and delights you.
All the Best,
W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear
P.S. We’re having fun answering questions at Gear Fan Club: First North American Series on Facebook. Please join us.