This is the first volume of a three-book series of paperback originals I wrote for Avon Books. An editor at Avon approached my then-agent with an idea of a trilogy about paranormal investigators, since both The X-Files and Men In Black were huge at the time, and my agent suggested me to write it. After passing the audition, so to speak, I got the job.
The good part was that it wasn’t work-for-hire. I would be the owner of the rights. Since I’d decided to stop doing work-for-hire, this seemed an intriguing way to get back into writing my own novels. Both the editor and I felt that the books should stay as far away from X-Files territory as possible, which would be easy for me. Though I often watched the show, I wasn’t obsessive about it. I decided to spice up the mix with a good dose of skepticism about the paranormal, and gave my secret team of government investigators the job of debunking supposed supernatural occurrences. In the notes at the back of every volume, I suggested that readers crack the covers of such skeptical classics as Gordon Stein’s The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal, The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan, and other books by James Randi, Martin Gardner, and Michael Shermer. I also gave them CSICOP’s web address.
The story concerned an ageless being, possibly an alien, who was being guarded by the Catholic Church. The Knights Templar played a large part in the series (this was before The DaVinci Code), and the three investigators, Laika Harris, Tony Luciano, and Joseph Stein start in New York City to investigate “a conspiracy that could shatter every belief about the origin of man…and God,” as the cover copy put it.
Though I’d thought Shadow Ops an evocative title for the series, the marketing department at Avon came up with The Searchers. Though I protested that there was no sign of John Wayne nor Native Americans in the book, The Searchers it became.
The editor and I agreed that the covers should be very contemporary and edgy, but again, the marketing department had different ideas. Since they wanted the books to appeal to the X-Files and Men In Black fans, what more brilliant method than making the covers look like an actual morph of those two franchises, with the three agents striking poses in front of a star field? And did it work? Well, Locus said, “The cover art and design package seem intended to attract fans of Men in Black and The X-Files. City of Iron is not a novelization of an existing film or TV show; but it does seem clearly aimed at suggesting a literary equivalent.” Science Fiction Chronicle opined, “…pretty obviously packaged to look similar to X-Files, but which contains a much better story.” Many readers (and Amazon reviewers) said that they almost didn’t pick up the book because it looked like an X-Files ripoff. And it did. It most certainly did. And so it goes.
Nevertheless, what reviews there were, were good and readers liked it. You might too. Contact me if you’d like copies — always happy to sign them for readers…