Scott D. Parker
Maybe this is sacrilege, but have you ever wanted to see Philip Marlowe written by another author? A Stephanie Plum adventure not written by Janet Evanovich? The Continental Op written by someone other than Dashiell Hammett?
I got to thinking about this idea in light of my reading choices for this summer: Gabriel Hunt and Batman. For the better part of four months now, I have been immersed in old Batman comics, primarily ones from the 1970s. Can't say for sure how this desire started, but I've run with it. In this re-reading of my old titles--this fun time in Bat-History a few years after the cancellation of the Adam West TV show and more than a decade from the mid-80s Frank Miller-penned books that permanently changed the way Batman was viewed not only by the public but by DC Comics--where Batman re-discovered not only his brooding nature but also his detective abilities.
I've also run with the neo-pulp adventures of Gabriel Hunt, a character created by Hard Case Crime co-founder, Charles Ardai, back in 2009. I quickly read the first two book in this six-book series, but the remaining four remained unread until this summer. Back in early June, I looked over the books I have on my Nook and, upon seeing Book #3, Hunt at World's End, decided to give it a quick review. It hooked me and I blew through to the end of the series in no time.
Why do I bring these up? Because different writers have penned stories about the same character. There's a basic bible of the Bat-verse and the Hunt-verse that contains all the fundamental characteristics of each respective world. From there, using a basic character arc outline, various authors have written stories set in that universe.
Often, with the Bat books, one has to be a pretty decent comic fan to discern the differences between authors. Not so the Hunt books. Each of the six authors of those books put their own, discernible stamp on the prose and character of Gabriel Hunt. I'll admit that one or two of them were more difficult to wade through even though all six books are action-packed. And I could tell, at the start of each book, whether or not I was going to like the author. It was a dreadful feeling when I struggled.
Bringing me back to my opening, you ever wonder why authors don't let other writers touch their creations? The easy answer is, obviously, that authors spend lots of time creating a character, a universe, and a brand for themselves. After that hard work, naturally, one wants to be protective. But just the idea of some "dream" cross-collaborations is nirvana for crime readers. Don Winslow writing a Travis McGee book, James Reasoner writing a Doc Savage adventure, or Louise Penny crafting a Hercule Poirot yarn. How about some more out-there pairings: Ken Bruen working on Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro, Anthony Horowitz writing about Wallander, or the aforementioned Evanovich taking on J. D. Robb's Eve Dallas.
The ideas are endless. Musicians collaborate, filmmakers collaborate, and television folk collaborate: why not authors?