Wednesday, June 7, 2023

A Peek Behind the Curtain: Into the (World) of Woods - Guest Post by Brett Battles

I have a story to tell—a story-behind-the-story kind. In this case, the story behind Stuart Woods’s latest Stone Barrington novel Near Miss, which is out June 6. 

Near Miss, as you may already know, is the book Stuart was working on when he passed away in July of 2022, and the book that I was honored and privileged to be asked to complete for him. This behind-the-scenes story of how that came about doesn’t start there, however, but in the fall of 2021, when I was chosen by Stuart to co-author the next book in his Teddy Fay series

Teddy is a former spy. I’ve written spy novels for years. Teddy now works in Hollywood. I used to work in Hollywood. A perfect match, if I do say so myself, and I was eager to help Stuart continue the series. 

I spent the next eight or so months working on Obsession (which comes out October 10), and submitted our final draft to the publisher in July, 2022, on a day that turned out to be just a couple weeks before Stuart left us. His passing was a shock and a sad time for his family, his fans, and those of us who worked with him. Personally, I had really enjoyed working with him on Obsession, and was looking forward to doing more with him in the future. But in light of what happened, I realized that Obsession would likely be my only experience writing in the world he had created. 

Not so fast. 

Skip forward to October 4, 2022. In what almost sounds like a globetrotting chapter from a Stone Barrington novel, that morning I and a couple friends left on a flight to Europe for a two-year delayed (thank you, COVID) river cruise with other friends we’d be meeting there. When we landed in NYC to change planes, I saw that I had a voice message from my agent. I was surprised when she told me about Stuart’s unfinished book, and even more so when she said that his family and the publisher wanted to know if I would be interested in tying up the loose ends and completing the story. 

Was I interested? Of course, I was. It would be an honor to finish a manuscript for a legend like Stuart. But the idea of it was a little daunting, too. 

Before I could say yes, I had many questions. Unfortunately, the travel gods worked against me that day. Our landing in NYC had been delayed by the remnants of a hurricane, and by the time we got to the gate, my friends and I had less than ten minutes before our plane to Zurich was to leave. 

Lucky for us, the flight waited and was just a gate away. We raced to it, were shuttled aboard, and the aircraft’s door was literally shut behind us. The unlucky part was that I had no opportunity to call my agent, so I had to live with all those questions rolling around my head until we landed again. 

Well, until we landed in Zurich and waited several more hours, thanks to the six-hour time difference, making it was still the middle of the night in NYC. It was two in the afternoon before I could finally make the call. My agent answered my questions, including telling me about the—shall we say—tight deadline. Of course, in spite of the short amount of time I would have, there was no way I was going to say no. I wanted to honor Stuart by shepherding what he’d started to its end. And I wanted to honor his fans, too, for their years of enjoying Stone Barrington’s adventures. 

That tight deadline I mentioned meant that I needed to get started right away, despite the fact that I was about to step into an eight-day river cruise up the Rhine, with a bunch of friends who would not be happy if I stayed in my room all the time. It was a juggling act of grabbing what time I could to immerse myself in Stone’s world, and enjoying time with friends, many of whom I hadn’t seen in years, but it all worked out. 

So, how does one go about finishing someone else’s book? With great care, and a lot of help. My first task was to read what Stuart had written so far, then sketch out ideas for the parts of the story he hadn’t gotten to yet. By the time I arrived back home, I had a plan in place and was able to immediately dive in to writing new chapters and making sure everything flowed well. 

My goal was to have readers not be able to tell where Stuart’s prose left off and my started. To that end, I paid special attention to keeping his words as unchanged as possible. And in the parts I wrote, I worked hard to create scenes and dialogue and characters that felt like they had come from his keyboard. 

The help came in the from Stuart’s editor at Putnam. Gaby and I would communicate all the time, and I would send her chapters as I finished for her to look over. She is an absolute delight to work with, and the finished book owes a lot to her advice and feedback and knowledge of all things Stone Barrington.  

Working flat out and taking only Thanksgiving Day off, I was able to finish a few days ahead of the deadline. Which ultimately meant Near Miss would be able to come out as planned. 

Completing Near Miss for Stuart is an experience I will never forget, and one I will be thankful for always. I am also so pleased with the results. I hope you are, too.

***

 

Brett Battles is the USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the Jonathan Quinn, Rewinder, Project Eden, and Night Man Chronicles series. He is a three-time Barry Award nominee, winning for Best Thriller in 2009 for his novel The Deceived.


Stuart Woods was the author of more than ninety novels, including the #1 New York Times bestselling Stone Barrington series. A native of Georgia and an avid sailor and pilot, he began his writing career in the advertising industry. Chiefs, his debut in 1981, won the Edgar Award. Woods passed away in 2022.

35 comments:

LoraBoross@gmail.com said...

Is Brett Battles going to continue the Stone Barrington Series?

Brett Battles said...

Working on the next one now. Look for it next summer.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't tell when Mr woods stopped and you finished. Looking forward to the next one in October, I think. Thank you for stepping in for him.

Brett Battles said...

Thank you so much!

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the next book, can’t wait

Anonymous said...

Will you be writing additional Teddy Fay books too?

Brett Battles said...

In addition to OBSESSION, the new Teddy Fay book I worked on that drops in October, I will be writing at least one more. Starting it as soon as I finished the new Stone novel.

Brett Bihner said...

I've read every Stuart Woods novel and I am both saddened by the loss of Mr. Woods and delighted that you will be carrying on his legacy. I look forward to reading Obsession and Near Miss and I also look forward into reading your other work. Thanks again!

Brett Battles said...

Thank you, Brett Bihner!

Anonymous said...

Near Miss! I could not put it down. Bravo! Thank you! D. Carlsen

Brett Battles said...

Thank you, D. Carlsen!

Anonymous said...

Hi Brett, congratulations! As you're taking on Stone in addition to Teddy, I thought I'd let you know what I have come to treasure about Stone: his unwavering moral compass, his loyalty and love of his friends; in particular, the brotherly relationship he shares with Dino (every book is better when Stone and Dino are getting into trouble!), his formidable intelligence and admirable problem-solving skills, and his uncanny ability to get himself into the craziest situations.

I'm thrilled that Stuart Woods' family asked you to continue his legacy and I wish you all the best in your endeavours. I can guarantee I'll be reading! Most sincerely, Carol.

Sonia H. said...

I agree with previous comment, I too could not tell where Stuart stopped and Brett began. I too have listened to all Stuart Woods books and when Stuart passed, I was not only upset about losing him but the cast of characters he created, in particular Stone and Dino. When I found the article I was so elated, that you, someone who had actually written with Stuart and was familiar with his writing, would continue giving life to Stone. I’m looking forward to Obsessions. Again good luck, there’s a lot of us fans, out there, just waiting.

Gary Smelcer said...

I am 3/4 into Near Miss Audio. Feeling that Woods saved the best for last. When I finally found this. You have taken a great writers work and added a subtle touch to (for me) make it greater. Bravo.

Brett Battles said...

Thank you both for the kind words and the support. I will continue to try and write stories that meet to your expectations!

Brett Battles said...

Thank you, Gary!

Al Reeder said...

I am greatly relieved to see you continuing Stone Barrington. Your work is enjoyed by you readers.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Battles!

Jamie Sharpe said...

Thank you Mr. Battles!

Anonymous said...

I'm currently reading "Near Miss, and was sad to learn that Stuart had passed. I've enjoyed reading his works for several years. While he will be missed, I am pleased that you will be continuing his work. I'll be looking for "Obsession " in October, and hopefully for many others in the future. -Rich in Seattle

Brett Battles said...

Thank you, Rich!

Beverly Harrison said...

Please keep Tony Roberts as the narrator for the audio books. Without his voice ….no Dino and company. Looking forward to the adventures ofTeddy Fay.

Anonymous said...

Just read 'Near Miss' and it flowed as well as any of Mr. Wood's other books. Enjoyed the read. Can not wait until the next book(s).

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Battles. Please continue!!

Anonymous said...

Great job. Hope to meet you at a book signing in North East Florida

Bill said...

Incredibly excited that you are continuing Stuart’s legacy! As others have stated, we couldn’t tell where Stuart stopped and where you took over! Well done, YOU!

Brett Battles said...

Thanks, Bill!

Saul said...

I just saw that Smolder is due out in June 2024. Is it the plan that this book will close out the Stone Barrington and friends various series? They have been a part of my life for more than 25 years. I hope the plan is to continue but if not, yo give them a true close-ouy.

Brett Battles said...

Saul, Smolder is indeed coming out in early June. It is not the last of the Stone series, though. Plus, I'm now working on the next Teddy Faye book, which will be out in the fall. So the characters, at least of now, live on.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Near Miss and Obsession. Well done. So happy if the series can continue. The khaki slacks and blue blazer lives on!😃

Renee said...

I've only had the pleasure to read Stuart Woods books in the last couple years and so was very sad to find he had passed away just as I'd discovered his writing. I'm working my way through and always have one of his books at hand. Now I find you will be continuing the legacy and I'm relieved. One question that rises in my mind often, I will there ever be a Stone Barrington movie? It would be amazing to actually see it on a screen! How would I stay connected to know when a new book comes out and anything else that might also come about ... Movie?!? Thanks

Brett Battles said...

Hi Renee! Thank you so much for your kind words! I wish I could answer your question about film rights, but unfortunately, I have no knowledge of what might or might not be happening with them. As far as staying connected, you can sign up for my newsletter at my website and you'll be kept up to date with any news on the Woods' books I'm working on and on my own novels. Here's the website: brettbattles.com

Take care!

Anonymous said...

I also hope that Tony Roberts will continue to record the audiobooks. Stone and Dino would not be the same without his portrayal, and we are accustomed to his renditions.

Brett Battles said...

I know Tony narrated Smolder, which just came out. As for future Stuart Woods' books, I think that will be up to him.

Anonymous said...

I am reading the latest stone barrington book Smolder will you continue to write any more Stone Barrington books in the future.