Today we are delighted to host a stop on Ben H. Winters’ blog tour to celebrate the conclusion of his Edgar Award-winning pre-apocalyptic Last Policeman mystery series. Thea was a big fan of The Last Policeman (book 1) and enjoyed Countdown City (book 2), following Detective Hank Palace as he solves a few last cases before the world inevitably ends. Needless to say, we were thrilled when we found out that Ben Winters was interested in writing a guest post for us about writing trilogies and the concept of inevitability.
Please give a warm welcome to Ben, folks!
The Last Page of the Last Book of The Last Policeman
a (spoiler-free) guest post by Ben H. Winters
I’ve known the ending all along, but that’s pretty much all that I’ve known.
From when I thought of the idea The Last Policeman, from when I pitched it, from when my publisher I decided it was to be a trilogy, I knew more or less what the last events of the last book were going to be.
I only I wish I had known more.
I wish I had sat down, way back in the spring of 2011 or whenever I launched the canoe on this thing, and written out a scene by scene breakdown, not just of the first book, but of all three books—and then I wish I had taped it the wall and followed it, like an architect building a tower, until I nailed that final chapter into the top and said voila.
I also wish I could ride a unicycle, and I wish I was better at fixing things around the house. While I’m at it, I wish Walter Mosley would come to my house so we could talk about how he wrote Devil in a Blue Dress—and oh, what the hell, I wish I could fly and shoot lasers from my eyes.
My point is, that whole outlining thing was never going to happen. Because that’s not the kind of author I am. And if there’s one thing I’m alway telling writing students—besides get off the internet as frequently and for as long as possible—it’s that at a certain point, you have to be the author that you are. Meaning not only “don’t write YA if you don’t really like YA”—although that’s part of it. I also mean stuff like figure out when you write best, and write then; figure out how much feedback you can use, and solicit that much and no more; and figure how much of an outliner you are, and do that much outlining.
So, for me, in this case, yes, I had a fairly strong sense, from Day One, of what the end of this series was going to be. And I knew the very basic formal idea, that each book would have one case for Detective Palace to solve in the foreground, while in the background we followed society’s continuing disintegration, and the continuing conspiratorial adventures of the hero’s sister.
But any attempt to further outline everything, to know everything in advance, would crash up against the rocks of my own particular way of writing, which is to go into each scene or chapter knowing a lot, but not everything, and finding out the rest as I write. And then going back, seeing what I’ve done, and refining it until I love it.
Now the obvious problem here is that when you’ve already published The Last Policeman, any discoveries you make in Countdown City must conform to what’s already set in stone in the pages of that original published work. Ditto with World of Trouble in re: the first two books. Which is why I spent a good amount of time, late in the process, banging my head against the wall, and wishing I was the kind of writer who does outline extensively, and knows everything from end to end and ear to ear before he gets going.
But to paraphrase Bob Dylan: that ain’t me, babe.
About the Author
BEN H. WINTERS is the author of six novels, including The Last Policeman, which won the 2013 Edgar Award for best paperback original, and its sequel, Countdown City. He lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife and their three children.
About the Book
Critically acclaimed author Ben H. Winters delivers this explosive final installment in the Edgar Award winning Last Policeman series. With the doomsday asteroid looming, Detective Hank Palace has found sanctuary in the woods of New England, secure in a well-stocked safe house with other onetime members of the Concord police force.
But with time ticking away before the asteroid makes landfall, Hank’s safety is only relative, and his only relative—his sister Nico—isn’t safe. Soon, it’s clear that there’s more than one earth-shattering revelation on the horizon, and it’s up to Hank to solve the puzzle before time runs out . . . for everyone.
World of Trouble publishes on July 15, 2014 from Quirk Books.
Quirk Books also has a sweet pre-order campaign for World of Trouble that includes all kinds of fancy extras, additional giveaways, and even a Hank Palace Survival Kit! Get all the details HERE.
The Official Blog Tour:
Want more World of Trouble? Check out the other stops on the official blog tour below!
Monday, July 7th: TheBookSmugglers.com
The End of a Series: The tour launches with Ben H. Winters on the challenges of finishing a book series and tackling a trilogy.
Tuesday, July 8th: ReaderofFictions.com
The Making of a Book Trailer: The book-trailer for The Last Policeman revisited, a discussion with Opie Cooper and Ben H. Winters.
Wednesday, July 9th: PublishingCrawl.com
Ben shares some of the best writing advice he’s ever gotten from his peers.
Thursday, July 10th: WellReadWife.com
Pre-Apocalyptic Fashion: What would it take to dress up as Hank? A post that details Hank Palace’s attire.
Friday, July 11th: GeekyLibrary.com
Hank Palace, a geek? It’s true. Ben H. Winters talks about the geekiest moments in The Last Policeman trilogy.
Monday, July 14th: GirlsintheStacks.com
The Almost & Original Covers: Ben talks about some of the original cover ideas for The Last Policeman, as well as the almost-covers for World of Trouble.
Tuesday, July 15th: LitReactor.com
#WriterWednesday: Research. What goes in to researching for a book like this? Ben H. Winters shares some advice.
Wednesday, July 16th: MyBookishWays.com
#WriterWednesday on Loss & Character: A discussion / guest post on what drives a character in the wake of everything ending / losing so much.
Thursday, July 17th: TheQwillery.blogspot.com
Man’s Best Friend: An ode to Houdini. Ben talks about Hank’s furry best friend in The Last Policeman trilogy.
Friday, July 18th: OfaBookWorm.com
#FridayReads for Aspiring Mystery Writers. Ben discusses books every aspiring mystery or thriller writer should read.
Monday, July 21st: NewMusicalTheater.com
From stage to novel, Ben talks about writing plays and how it helped him become a better novelist.
Also, Ben is running a ‘reverse blog tour’ on his website, with guests like Ransom Riggs, Hugh Howey, and other big name authors posting tips, doing interviews, etc. You can join in the fun over at www.benhwinters.com.