Where Did They Go? Delayed Books and Disappearing Authors

It seems like every book blogger out there has had something to say about when (or if) we'll see books like The Winds of Winter by George R.R. Martin and Doors of Stone by Patrick Rothfuss, but they're nowhere near the top of the list of books I'm reserving space for in my library.

Every year I put together an end-of-year list of Most Anticipated reads, and every year there are books that get delayed, canceled, or which disappear altogether. With eternal hope and optimism, however, I keep pushing them to the next year's list, hoping the stars will align, the gods will be appeased, and those books will appear.

The Captal's Tower by Melanie Rawn is probably the longest lingering title on my list, a long-awaited sequel to The Ruins of Ambrai and The Mageborn Traitor. There are perfectly good reasons for its delay, including the death of Melanie's mother, shoulder surgery, struggles with clinical depression, and the need "to do something entirely different" from a writing perspective. She announced in 2014 that she'd begin working on it as soon as she finished her Glass Thorns series, and with Playing to the Gods being published last year, all we can do now is be hopeful . . . and patient.

Next longest on my list would be the collected (pending) works of Clive Barker. He last posted in 2006 about having "two more tales in note form about Boone and the Nightbreed" that would serve as a sequel to Cabal; in 2012 about "the second and last volume of Gailee"; in 2013 about a Books of Blood style collection of short stories called Black Is The Devil's Rainbow: Tales Of A Journeyman (which made it as far as his editor, new Hellraiser story included); and in 2014 that he had "started to structure the third book of The Art," which would be the sequel to The Great and Secret Show and Everville. Again, very good reasons for the delay, including the fact that he nearly died from dental surgery and spent years recovering, has been utterly consumed with writing and illustrating his Abarat series, and is facing a very different publishing market where short fiction and epic erotic horror are no longer as marketable. Sadly, Phil and Sarah (chroniclers of his website) were not able to share any news, but I would brave the Lemarchand Configuration puzzle box for a peek a just one of those projects.

Next on the list would have to be Endlords by J.V. Jones, the planned fifth book of the Sword of Shadows saga. The first four books had a somewhat erratic release schedule, with just 2 years between A Cavern of Black Ice and A Fortress of Grey Ice, but 6 years between that and A Sword from Red Ice. It's been 8 years since Watcher of the Dead, and most of that with no news, but last year she re-emerged to talk about her period of "heartbreak, loss, loneliness and hopelessness" to begin sharing her journey back to writing on Patreon. It's all too easy to forget that authors are real people, with real lives, and real problems. We tend to put them on a pedestal, assuming they have the time and freedom to do nothing but write, when in fact they face the same everyday challenges we do - from financial issues, to lost loved ones, to housing problems, to broken limbs, and more. It's brave of Jones to be so open and honest with her followers, and that sincerity makes it easy to want to support her as a human being, not just as a writer.

Shifting gears a bit to authors who have disappeared, John Marco announced The Bloody Chorus back in 2013, with a tentative 2015 release date. At the time, he was stuck in publishing limbo with The Forever Knight, which had sat with his editor for over a year without being read, while The Bloody Chorus was going on two years unread. The former did hit shelves the next year, but both the latter and John himself have since fallen off the radar. The last we heard from him was back in 2016, when he participated in an AMA for the Unbound anthology. Since then, his blog, Facebook profile, and Twitter accounts have all been deleted; his sffworld page is gone; and his website has been reduced to a "This Site Is Under Construction and Coming Soon" message. I did pop him a message on Reddit, just in case he happens to be checking that, but so far, no news. If you're out there, John, we'd love to know what you're up to these days, even it's just to know you're okay.

Now, as for books that keep getting pushed back, only to disappear into a black hole of uncertainty, we have been waiting for Black Heart by Mark Smylie for about 4 years. The sequel to The Barrow (one of the first books to land on my maturesmirk‎ shelf) was originally scheduled for the fall of 2015, but it's been a long time with no updates. The last time I talked to Mark (late 2016), he was at 250k words with another 30-50k to write. I've reached out to him for an update on Facebook, but haven't heard back. EDIT: I talked to Mark last night, and the book was stalled for a few very good reasons, but he's hoping to finish it by the end of the year. Unlike Marco, his website and Facebook pages are still active, although there have been no updates or posts in years. The book does still have a 'forthcoming' page on the Pyr website, however (complete with cover, cover blurb, and ISBN), so we can only hope it will see the light of day.

Initiates of the Blood, an erotic, BDSM-themed, urban fantasy from the legendary Cecilia Tan was one of my Most Anticipated Reads for 2017 and 2018 . . . and will be so again for next year. You can check out Tan's blog for more details, but she's done a fantastic job of keeping readers informed as to what's happening and why. In short, a key editor at Tor passed away, causing a scramble as others picked up his authors; the book went 9 months without being read; the second draft ended up taking longer than the first; the delay led to a creative change in cover design; and, understandably, Tan was hesitant to begin the next book until the first was accepted. It's done, and in this case it will be coming, just a little late. So, it will continue to be on the Most Anticipated list, and I will continue to quietly pester my publicist contacts for an ARC.

One of the few sci-fi titles on my Most Anticipated Reads of 2018, Poor Relations by Jo Walton, was scheduled to hit shelves in September. The opening tagline was fantastic - "When it came down to it, you couldn't legislate against the economics of sex and gender any more than you could legislate against people being poor." Unfortunately, the forced gender-swap concept seemed anger as many people as it intrigued. How much that played into Walton's decision is impossible to say, but she acknowledged last year that people were "upset by the description," and announced earlier this year that she "decided it wasn't a good time to publish that book." I'm clinging to that choice of words regarding timing, and hoping we'll see it eventually, but for now its canceled, with pre-orders refunded, all listings removed, and no ARCs produced (trust me, I checked).

Lastly (for now, at least) The Librarians and the Pot of Gold by Greg Cox was originally slated for a February release, and then pushed back to October. With the TV series being canceled in the meantime, I'm hoping (a) this still sees the light of day, and (b) it's not the last, but the next in the literary tie-in series. Greg doesn't have much of a social media profile, but he does have a Facebook page where he's pretty good at keeping readers updated. Just last month he posted a note assuring us the book has not been canceled, stating that "licensing deals don't evaporate just because the original show has been canceled." There are other franchises that have lived on as books, long after TV screens have faded dark, so that's good to hear. If all we get is a trilogy, with a delayed ending, that's fine (I've asked if there's any chance of a 4th book, and will let you know if he responds), but there's far too much potential in The Librarians concept to let that be an end.

Okay, thanks to Laura Hughes for reminding me - I would be woefully remiss if I didn't do a quick edit and add Marc Turner and his Chronicles of the Exile series to the list. Although no fourth book was ever announced to really qualify as a delayed title, the first three books hit shelves back-to-back-to-back, with both Dragon Hunters and Red Tide coming out in 2016, so it's only natural that a two-year gap should feel so much longer. There was a discounted e-book bundle of all 3 books released earlier this year that raised my hopes for an announcement, but it seemed to be more the closing of a chapter than the turning of a page. Sadly, Marc has gone silent on social media, and there have been no updates to his website, but I'm still hoping we might see more of the world, even if it's with another publisher, although that seems increasingly unlikely. All I know is the series can't end there. EDIT: I can't say much, sworn to secrecy and all that, but Marc is still writing, with a new story to appear in the Unfettered III anthology, and will update his blog as soon as there's other news to share.

Well, that's it for today. I'm sure I can dig up some more examples, and will put together another post when I do, but how about you? What are you waiting for? Who do you worry has disappeared, never to hit the shelves again? Better yet, any news (or even rumors to share)?


  1. Fantastic post. I too wondered what on earth happened with Poor Relations. It's always so disheartening whenever you see a release date pushed back, with no updates.

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. Thanks. I was looking forward to Poor Relations. Hopefully she does eventually publish it, because it sounded like what good SF should be - edgy, though-provoking, and socially conscious, and (of course) full of wonder and excitement.


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