Nicholas Pekearo: Memories of a Writer Who Barked at the Moon
By Eric Raab, Editor
I had the great fortune of meeting Nicholas Pekearo two years before he died, and I liked him right off the bat. We both loved the horror films of the mid to late 1970s and the early 1980s. We both grew up reading comics. And we even liked the same novelists. So when I found out he was churning out novels for fun, I was eager to see what exactly he was up to.
He first hit me with a novel he called The Savior (which I found out after his death was his second; his first was called Redbird), a first person serial killer story in which the narrative unfolded through audio tape confessions of his crimes. It was rough as Nick was still learning how to tell a story in novel form, but the voice was amazing.
The next time we met he hit me with The Wolfman. And just talking to him about it gave me the feeling that this was the book to put him on the map. It was dark as hell, often funny, and altogether brutal. He created a great soul-wounded character in Marlowe Higgins. Higgins is a werewolf who roams from town to town coping with his affliction and trying desperately to find a way to reverse it. And no matter how much he fights it, every full moon he has to kill. It was like the TV Incredible Hulk, with a raucous metal attitude. Before I read it Nick told me to think of Higgins as Lemmy from Motorhead, which is a perfect description. It was supposed to be the first in a series, and it sucks that he never got to take it any further.
On the night of March 16, 2007, Nick was shot and killed while on duty as an auxiliary police officer in the neighborhood he grew up in, New York City’s Greenwich village. A madman entered a restaurant, armed to the teeth, with over 90 rounds of ammunition. He killed the restaurant’s bartender, then took to the streets of Greenwich Village, where he crossed path with Nick and his partner, Eugene Marshalik. They were both unarmed, but they tried to stop him anyway. Nick was shot six times: one bullet was stopped by the bulletproof vest he wore; the others weren’t. Eugene was shot once in the head and died on the street. Moments later, the madman was gunned down and killed by the NYPD. Nick died later that night in the hospital where he was born.
Just four days before he was killed, I had dinner with Nick and he gave me his latest round of revisions on The Wolfman. And just a few weeks earlier he’d handed me a novel he had just written, The Invisible Boy. That’s how prolific he was.
It goes without saying that Nick was a hero that night on the streets of New York. But his heroism for me goes beyond that sacrifice. Every time we met he reminded me why I got involved in book publishing: to tell great stories and meet great people. Nick was on his way to a great career as a writer, and the best was yet to come. At least he left us The Wolfman. Check it out. He won’t let you down.
The Wolfman (A Tor hardcover; 0-765-32026-6, $23.95) by Nicholas Pekearo was released on May 13th.
Jack: Secret Histories—A New Repairman Jack novel…except he’s not Repairman Jack yet
By F. Paul Wilson
It’s 1983. The Atari 5200 is the hot videogame console and Star Wars Death Star Battle is the hot game; the Apple ][+ with a whole 48K of RAM is state of the art in home computing; everyone’s twisting a Rubik’s cube.
And a fourteen-year-old boy is beginning to explore the talents that will lead him to become a man known as Repairman Jack.
Never saw myself writing for kids, especially since I already have a fair number of teen readers, mostly sixteen and up. But a motley array of forces converged to goose me into writing a novel geared toward the under-fifteen crowd – a so-called Young-Adult novel.
I say “so-called” because the writing process wasn’t much different from my adult work and the style is virtually identical. I’ve striven over the years for a clean, lean style, tailored to the pace of the thrillers I write. Now, to my delight, I find it fits a younger audience equally well. At least that’s what a focus group showed: Kids who often took up to a month to finish a book were polishing off Jack: Secret Histories over a weekend and looking for more.
But what surprised me most was how much fun I had. I delighted in peeking into Jack’s past and populating it with people who would play parts in his later life, or arranging cameos of characters from other novels. The books practically wrote themselves. I’d agreed to write three and I had drafts of the second and third done before the first’s pub date. Like taking dictation.
Best of all was looking at the world again through fourteen-year-old eyes. I remember my own last summer before high school as a turning point in my life, so that was where I chose to begin Jack’s story. Since I’d already established his birth year as 1969, I pretty much had to set the story in 1983. Not a bad year – lots of new technology, disco was dead, and MTV was on the rise.
As luck would have it, I’d already placed Jack’s hometown in Burlington County, which juts into the mysterious and fabled Jersey Pine Barrens. Perfect. It all came together in a glorious crash. I could work all sorts of magic in a million acres of wilderness with places no human eyes have ever seen, where strange lights jump from tree to tree and the Jersey Devil supposedly roams. I peopled his town with weird characters and places – like an old woman (with a dog) who’s supposedly a witch, and the town drunk who’s rumored to be able to heal with a touch but always wears gloves, and USED, the store that sells old…stuff.
From his start many years ago in The Tomb, I made of point of giving the adult Jack an Everyman background. He’s not an ex Navy SEAL or former CIA black-ops agent, just a guy from New Jersey who dropped off the radar and taught himself a few tricks. But he has an innate knack for manipulating people and situations to his advantage. (Of course, if that doesn’t work, he has his trusty Glock.) Here was a chance to show him discovering his talents.
As I said: Like taking dictation.
If comments on repairmanjack.com are any indication, adult Repairman Jack fans are lined up, waiting to dive in. As for the rest of you, no matter what your age, if you enjoy reading Jack: Secret Histories half as much as I enjoyed writing it, you’re in for a treat.
F. Paul Wilson’s first young adult novel, Jack: Secret Histories (0-7653-1854-7; $15.95) was released from Tor Teen on May 27, 2008. For more information on Wilson and Repairman Jack, you can visit his website: repairmanjack.com
Why I am still waiting for my personal zeppelin
By Claire Eddy, Senior Editor
Most girls my age grew up wanting a dream Barbie playhouse.
I wanted a Van de Graaff generator.
Most girls I knew wanted to go to the prom.
I wanted to go to the Center of the Earth.
I wanted a zeppelin and I wanted to go to the moon. Jules Verne and the Hardy Boys were my pals. Why couldn’t I be the nineteenth century explorer who battled giant squids and had fabulous adventures in long-lost dinosaur lands?
When The Court of the Air showed up on my desk, I looked at the cover (the book was first published in Britain) and read the cover copy and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.
Flying spy balloons? A 19th century steampunky alternate England with clockwork monsters and saints, with mysterious men in airships who work for hidden government agencies determined to protect the Empire? Dueling magicians who use modern technology and ancient arts to fight an age-old war?
And mushroom people! (Did I mention the mushroom people?)
And in the midst of all of this we have the story of two young orphans, Molly Templar and Oliver Brooks, who are thrown together because of a shared fate.
I closed my door and settled down to read the book, thinking it couldn’t be as good as advertised. I have rarely been so happy to be wrong. I fell into the book and was right there with Molly as she survived one adventure after another; was right there with Oliver as he evaded the bad guys and worked to thwart dastardly plots that might destroy the Empire. People knocked on my door to ask me mundane publishing questions and I got annoyed. I was twelve again and I was off on an adventure—why wouldn’t people leave me alone? I was working, wasn’t I?
I finished the book and came out of my cave and couldn’t stop babbling to people about it. I guess I convinced enough folks that it was terrific because we’re publishing The Court of the Air this June and we’ve bought the rights to Stephen’s second book set in this universe, The Kingdom Beyond the Waves.
You don’t have to be twelve to love The Court of the Air. But I think it will remind you of a time when you thought you could do anything and that there were wondrous discoveries waiting just around the corner.
Or between the pages of a book.
I still don’t have my zeppelin, but this is pretty close…
The Court of the Air (A Tor Sci-Fi Essential 0-765-32042-8, $25.95) by Stephen Hunt will be available on June 10th.