At the instigation of my dynamic new webmaster (Mom), I'm sending out this first of what she intends to be many updates. If you don't want to receive this, please write her a nasty note and follow the instructions for removing your name from the list. If you do want it, then please consider writing her to confirm that moms are always right.
The year 2003 was a good one for the Antonio Burns series with the paperback version of the debut (EDGE) being released in April, a paperback original "prequel" (POINT) in May, and a new hardcover (TRIAL) in July. Along with the books, my publisher, Bantam Dell, unleashed a media blitzkrieg, with print ads everywhere from the New York Times to USA Today and radio spots across the country. Reviewers were generally far too generous. These included the Chicago Tribune, Denver Post, USA Today, Washington Post, and Outside Magazine. The exception was the Somerset, PA Daily American which wrote: "The dialog is foul and do you really care about all these druggies? By the time you reach the ending, it hardly matters who did it." If you want to read portions of the nice reviews, Mom has posted them on the website.
While bouncing around the Western states doing interviews, appearances and signings, I managed to complete the fourth and intended final book in the series, CROSSING THE LINE. The book takes place in both Wyoming and Mexico and involves drug kingpins, the vengeance of a federal agency, Anton and Roberto switching places, and generally a whole lot of danger for the bros.
I had a lot of fun researching the book and talking to people I know on both sides of the "War on Drugs," but it was difficult to end my relationship with the Burns Brothers. After four books, they'd become very much a part of me. But I believed their time had come, acting the way they do. It was inevitable they should eventually take a ground fall.
Bantam Dell, however, had other plans for the brothers, signing them up for fifth and sixth books. I'm still trying to figure out how to undo to them what I did in CROSSING THE LINE. Even these works of fiction can't allow for any miraculous resurrections, so they're coming back more than a little damaged. But being who they are, they're still looking for a good time! I'm afraid it's bad luck for them, but at least I won't have to go back to lawyering any time soon.
As I untangle these knots and breathe new life into the brothers (and I mean that literally), I'm keeping myself amused with other projects.
Foremost among these is a nonfiction project about the 1932 manhunt for a man known as the Mad Trapper. It's a story that has fascinated me for years, involving one of the greatest feats of human endurance the world has ever known. A lone man in the arctic wilderness shot a Mountie for no apparent reason and then ran on homemade snowshoes for six dark weeks of -40º weather, outrunning and outgunning the posses of Mounties who chased him by dog team and airplane. He crossed a range of mountains, believed to be impassible, north of the Arctic Circle in a blizzard before the Mounties finally got their man. I keep wondering how the hell did this guy do what he did? And who the hell was he? Unfortunately, I've learned that if I'm going to find the answers, I've got to go where he did. That means north of the Arctic Circle, to a mountain range that's still considered unclimbable, and to do it in winter. I have managed to sucker two friends, Taylor Reed and Mark DuRocher, into going with me. Yukon Ho!
I'm pointing my truck north for a drive that will take me all the way to the Beaufort Sea. This trip is probably the reason Webmaster Mom has been pushing me so hard to write this update now. She's afraid I might not have fingers to type with when I get back.
Other recent "research" has included climbing in the Black Canyon, in the Wind Rivers, and on my beloved Longs Peak; backpacking in the Big Horns; swimming naked in the rivers of Northern California; caving with a Wyoming Search & Rescue team; backcountry skiing in the Maroon Bells and Never Summer Mountains; and soloing a route I shared with a giant tarantula in Las Vegas' Red Rock Mountains.
Some adventures I can't figure out a way to call "research" (and thus deduct) were trips to Kona for sun, Alta for snow, Los Angeles and San Francisco for family events - all with my beautiful and extremely tolerant wife, Justine, and son, Colin. A good time was had on each of these occasions!
The only truly unhappy moment in another wonderful year of getting to write for a living was the death of my best friend. Dempsey was the inspiration for the dog Oso, who was featured in the first two books. Like all good friends, he was loyal to me despite all the times I dragged him off on reckless escapades or, infinitely worse, left him behind. Now he's left me behind on the greatest adventure of all. I hope you will spend an extra few minutes with any shaggy friends you might have and let them know just how much they mean to you. He meant the world to me.