I recently led a book discussion on David Lagercrantz's The Girl in the Spider's Web, and it sparked an interesting conversation, particularly being so close to Halloween and Día de los Muertos. For those not familiar with Lisbeth Salander, the punk hacker heroine of the girl in novels, her origins came from Swedish journalist and author Stieg Larsson. In the early 2000's, Larsson wrote the Millennium trilogy comprised of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Side note - I have a certain affinity for these novels because they're some of the books that got me back into reading after my near decade long hiatus.
Tragically, Larsson died before his trilogy was published; all three were released posthumously. The novels were an international phenomena, sparked a trilogy of Swedish films, an American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and eight years later, the continuation of his series by fellow Swedish author and crime journalist David Lagercrantz. Now, days away from the upcoming theatrical release for the newest installment, my book discussion group appropriately touched on the fiscally straightforward, yet respectfully complex subject of creative continuation following an artist's death.
While numerous creators see either continued or new-found success following their death, it's a different story when someone else takes the initiative and continues the story. Writing isn't the only medium where this occurs, specifically now with concerts featuring hologram musicians. I read an article a few days ago that Amy Winehouse will be embarking on a world-wide tour next year. Yeah, except she died seven years ago.
It's no secret that money is behind these reenactments and continuations, and to pretend that there's any other reason is the most disrespectful part of the whole process. But, since death and illness are the great equalizer in this world, and money causes the biggest divide, it's only natural that these two forces clash at one point or another.
Anyone who read The Girl in the Spider's Web knows that Lagercrantz did in fact do our gothic hero pictured here some justice, I just don't know if I agree that the series should have been continued when it's original creator is no longer with us. It was said that when Larsson died he left outlines for a total of ten Millennium novels on his computer, and who knows, maybe he would be thrilled that his subtle cyberpunk thrillers are still finding their way to the hands of thousands and thousands of readers. We all know he's not the only writer this happens to: Michael Crichton and Tom Clancy are a few others who have published new work since being dead, and we all know about the controversial Go Set a Watchman publication from the estate of Harper Lee. But are these publications and continuations good for art? Or would the people behind them rather have their work rest too?
Until we figure out a way to communicate with the dead (or those who wish their work remain at rest write it into their will) we'll never know. We can only appreciate the attempts at keeping our favorite fictional worlds alive and pretend it isn't all for the money. Though we know it really is.
On another, less morbid note, there are two events coming up that I'm pretty stoked about. And big shout out to the folks at Manchester Library and those who came out for Spooky Story Night and listened to some PG... and not so PG tales of Halloween madness. Coming up this Thursday, November 1st, join me, R.C. Goodwin, Penny Goetjen, and Sarah Whelan for a panel on writing and specifically mysteries.
Following that, on November 14th, I'll be hosting a conversation with fellow local author Kristen Tsetsi on her timely new novel The Age of the Child at Book club Bookstore & More in South Windsor. Come take part in the discussion (I promise no spoilers), and learn about her new book, writing difficult subjects, and how the ideas of family, regulation, and human choice intersect.
Lastly, following Halloween thousands of writers will be sitting down to take part in NaNoWriMo where they'll attempt to write 50,000 words in one month. I've taken part the last few years, and even finished once, but unfortunately this year I won't be able to try my best at a new draft. So here's to all those that will. May you write like the edits don't matter! Till next time everyone, be safe, praise the sun, and don't go hollow.