Wednesday, June 15, 2011
One of my fellow Robert E. Howard fans over at the REH Comics Yahoo Group mentioned that a company called Wildfire books, with who I'm not familiar, is going to publish John Jakes's final Brak the Barbarian novel, which will be written by author Adrian Cole from an outline by Jakes. Reportedly Wildfire approached Jakes about finishing the novel, but he wasn't interested. He was, however, all right with someone else finishing it from the outline.
That's all the details I have at the moment, however I can add a couple of things from my own knowledge. Jakes had mentioned back in the early 1970s that he had the final Brak story outlined and knew how the saga would finish up. He even joked in the introduction to one of the Brak paperbacks about having that outline locked in a safe in case something happened to him. What did happen to him was fame and fortune as a writer of historical novels following the runaway success of his Kent Family Chronicles written around America's Bicentennial.
About a decade ago when I was working on a biographical study of fantasy writer/editor Lin Carter, I interviewed Jakes about his days writing sword & sorcery stories about his blond Conan clone, Brak. Jakes had dedicated one of the Brak books to Carter, so I figured the men were acquainted. (Both men were also members of SAGA, the Swordsman and Sorcerers Guild of America, a loosely knit group of 70s-80s S&S writers.) The good news is Jakes was very forthcoming about his Brak stories and about Carter. The bad news is that was in the days before I had learned to back up everything I wrote in at least three places and a hard drive crash took the interview and the biographical study away. I never had the heart to go back and rewrite the study, especially since one of my primary sources passed away not long after I had interviewed him.
I do recall that Jakes was in no way ashamed of his days as a fantasy/SF author, but he felt that he had left that genre behind and had no interest in returning to it. I've talked about Brak the Barbarian here before, so if you're not familiar with the character, go here: