Hi Jim and whoever's left.
I go back a while, too. It's shocking to note that it's almost exactly a year since my last post and that was the first in more years than I want to know. As the place is now pretty cobweb-strewn and empty, I thought I'd share something. A bit like Ripley's last broadcast from the Narcissus. You might remember it or maybe have a copy stashed away somewhere. Here's the first ever comment from the man himself on what went on to become this board. Enjoy...
NOTE TO THE SLADISTS #1
This is Slade.
To borrow a phrase from the one and only H.P. Lovecraft, I have been a "lurker at the threshold" of this website. In a perfect world, virtue is rewarded, and since I - like you - think Eric has done a fine job on his own, I have asked the Webmaster if I may use the site to commune with you.
He has kindly agreed.
The first question I should answer is "What is a Sladist?" The name was coined by Steve, a journalist in Vancouver, to refer to anyone who has read all the books. To date, Slade has published seven Special X novels:
EVIL EYE (1996) (U.K. title: ZOMBIE)
PRIMAL SCREAM (1998) (U.K. title: SHRINK)
BURNT BONES (1999)
A new Zinc Chandler novel is underway.
THE HORSES OF CENTRAL PARK is not my work. That's another Michael Slade. When I heard about it, my initial reaction was: "A children's book! This will ruin my reputation!" But then I thought about it from the other Michael Slade's point of view. Imagine a parent who bought THE HORSES OF CENTRAL PARK for junior going into a store to purchase a follow-up book and coming out with GHOUL. Who's reputation is more at stake!
Okay, why the split titles?
Agatha Christie was an early influence on Slade. Most of her books have different titles in the U.K. and U.S. I used to wonder: "How did that happen, Aggie?" But not anymore.
The original concept was the books would all have one word titles, each the name of a psycho. Book Four - as you know - was almost SKULL AND CROSSBONES, because there were two psychos. It ended up RIPPER. Book Five was delivered to New York, Toronto and London with the title ZOMBIE. BANG! the British were out the gate and putting it into print. By coincidence, Joyce Carol Oates had also written a ZOMBIE about Jeffrey Dahmer. She and Slade shared the same New York publisher, so to avoid confusion, the North American title of my book was changed to EVIL EYE.
A similar situation occurred with SHRINK. The British liked the title and were out the gate. My North American publishers preferred one of the chapter titles, PRIMAL SCREAM. The split title precedent had been set so both got their way.
To stick with the racetrack metaphor, you have it from the horse's mouth. The world of publishing, my friends, is a wild and woolly one.
A note to collectors. The book you want is the W.H. Allen edition of HEADHUNTER, published in Britain in 1984. After the book was in print, it was re-edited in North America, and the edition now on sale in Britain is the American one. Because it is an anomaly, the W.H. Allen edition gets rarer by the day.
A few years ago, I was doing a signing at a local book store when Federal Express showed up with a box containing that edition packed in bubble wrap. The FedEx man (obviously following customer instructions) donned white gloves to keep the book pristine, and the signing came to a halt while I autographed the rarity for a reader in the States. Then it was repackaged, and off it went. "Who was that masked man?" the next Sladist in line asked.
I have no idea.
He must be a collector.
A final note on the pen name "Michael Slade." Because HEADHUNTER was jointly written by Jay, John and Rick, a pseudonym was essential. Jay and John were sitting at the kitchen table in Jay's home when Jay said, "What about 'DeClercq'?"
(DeClercq v. The Queen is a Supreme Court of Canada case on the admissibility of statements by an accused.)
"It's like John le Carre," Jay enthused. "A capital in the center of the last name. That catches the eye. How often do you see a 'c' and a 'q' together? No need for a first name. It will be like Voltaire. It will be like Homer. It will be like..."
When Jay has a weak idea, John deals with it by saying, "Let's put it on the back burner." The hope is it will boil away.
Jay's wife, Lee, was a bit more blunt. She came in from gardening and overheard the suggestion. The exact words said are in dispute, but one recollection is her comment went something like this: "That's a bad idea. 'DeClercq' will be confusing. Shy readers who can't pronounce it will come out of a book store with Wilbur Smith instead."
Jay, a mite miffed, replied, "You think it's easy to come up with a pen name? You try."
Lee thought about it for about five seconds and said, "'Michael Slade'."
"Michael Slade?" said Jay. "Where did you get that?"
"Michael's a name in the Bible. It has a certain sensitivity. I don't know a woman who doesn't like it. And Slade...he's tough as nails." "Sensitive, but tough. Sold," said John.
Jay was outvoted two to one.
So, Michael Slade it was, and Michael Slade it is.
Which is a good thing, don't you think?
The possibilities are endless.
Each sleight-of-hand whodunit is a "Slade-of-hand."
Slade is in the "Slade trade."
His fans are "Sladists."
It would be much harder to work with "DeClercq."
p.s. Thanks to Sam for the message from John Dickson Carr's granddaughter. Carr, Christie and Ellery Queen inspired the whodunit aspect of the books.
"If the monkeys can't peel bananas, why teach them rocket science?" - Verbatim reply from a Deputy Director at my former employers' when asked about training.