Hey, everybody, it’s been some time since I sent out a newsletter, so this one is jam-packed with developments. There wasn’t as much to bring you up to speed on in 2020, given that I had no new release – the first time that’s happened since my first novel came out in 2004. Blame current events and a global pandemic.
But believe me, what’s coming will have been worth waiting for.
North American Cover
Find You First
My latest novel, Find You First – out February 4th in the UK and Ireland, and May 4th in North America * – might just be the best thing I’ve ever done. At least one person thinks so:
“Find You First starts with a bang and ends with an even bigger one. Barclay is a terrific writer, but he’s outdone himself with this. It’s the best book of his career. I couldn’t put it down, and you won’t be able to, either. If you enjoy thrillers, this is the real deal. It never lets up.” -- Stephen King
Here’s what it’s about:
Tech millionaire Miles Cookson has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of — except time. He has recently been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and there is a fifty percent chance that it can be passed on to the next generation. For Miles, this means taking a long hard look at his past...
Two decades ago, a young, struggling Miles was a sperm donor. Somewhere out there, he has kids — nine of them. And they might be about to inherit both the good and the bad from him — maybe his fortune, or maybe something much worse.
As Miles begins to search for the children he’s never known, aspiring film documentarian Chloe Swanson embarks on a quest to find her biological father, armed with the knowledge that
twenty-two years ago, her mother used a New York sperm bank to become pregnant.
When Miles and Chloe eventually connect, their excitement at finding each other is overshadowed by a series of mysterious and terrifying events. One by one, Miles’ other potential heirs are vanishing — every trace of them wiped, like they never existed at all.
Who is the vicious killer — another heir methodically erasing rivals? Or is something even more sinister going on?
I was asked last year to contribute a story to a Suspense Magazine anthology called Nothing Good Happens After Midnight. It’s a brilliant concept. Every story takes place between midnight and 6 a.m. My tale is inspired by an actual event that happened when I was the overnight assistant city editor at the Toronto Star, and a reporter and I spent several hours on the phone in a bid to stop a man from committing a mass shooting.
The most often asked question around our house after “When will this all end?” is “What are we going to watch now?” Why can’t Netflix put out a series like "The Queen’s Gambit" every single week? I mean, come on.
"The Queen’s Gambit," in fact, might just be the best thing we’ve seen since last March, but there have been plenty of other good time-fillers. "Godless," written and directed by the same guy who did "Gambit" (Scott Frank), is terrific. We discovered "Peaky Blinders" and watched all five seasons that have been made so far, and it’s an amazing show, although it lost its way in that last season. (It just felt off.)
"Ted Lasso" was charming. "Servant" was creepy. "The Flight Attendant" was pure fun. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" is genius.
We’ve even gone back and watched episodes from a much-underrated and sadly forgotten science fiction show from the '60s called "The Invaders." And a couple of weeks ago we decided to watch "Lost" again. We’re now up to the third season, and while we remember the broad strokes of this show, we’ve forgotten so much of the detail that it’s a delight to get “lost” in that world again. I know many fans were disappointed in the ending, but I don’t care because the journey is 99 percent of the fun.
What I'm Reading
I’ve read so many books since the pandemic began I can’t remember what half of them were. It’s also been a time when I reread some books, which I don’t often do. But I went back to a few Spenser novels by Robert B. Parker from the early ‘90s, and they were a real pleasure because I didn’t remember a single word of them. I tackled Stephen King’s The Stand, because reading a book about a disease that wipes out most of humanity seemed like a great way to take my mind off current events. (And it was the unabridged version, that comes in at more than 1,000 pages. Back in the early ‘80s I had read the shorter edition.)
My greatest discovery was the Bernie Gunther novels by the late Philip Kerr. I had somehow missed these, but as I write
this I have only one left to read. This is an amazing series, and Kerr’s skills are a thing to behold. When I read someone like this, I think, boy am I glad we don’t all have to be this good to get published.
TV and Movie News
Not too much happening here, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning. We might – might – have some news before too long about a possible series based on my Promise Falls trilogy (Broken Promise, Far From True and The Twenty-Three). Fingers crossed there will be something to report in the next newsletter.
Canadians should take note that my movie Never Saw It Coming, starring Eric Roberts and Emily Hampshire (with a screenplay by yours truly, based on my book), is now available on the Canadian version of Amazon Prime. We’re still trying to make it available in other markets, and when and if there is news I will let you know.
And things are slowly moving forward on
a possible movie adaptation of my novel Fear the Worst, starring Jason Priestley. I’ve written the script for it, and you can read a little more about it here.
Well, you can just guess. I’m certainly looking forward to the day when festivals and book tours resume, and I can meet readers face to face and actually sign some copies. But for now, watch my Facebook author page and my Twitter feed for announcements of virtual events. I’ve done quite a few since last March, and among the highlights was interviewing Harlan Coben for the Toronto International Festival of Authors
and Ian Rankin for the Vancouver Writers Fest.
At the moment, there are no in-person events planned for Find You First, but there will be plenty of virtual ones. Stay tuned.
I was asked by the Toronto Star, where I spent 27 years, 14 of them as a columnist before leaving in 2006, to offer my thoughts about what a pandemic was like for a writer, and that piece can be found here (although it may be behind a paywall for some).
That Car Book
For the last couple of years, I’ve been teasing folks with news of a slightly different kind of novel I’ve written, more like a Michael Crichton kind of book. I pitch it this way: Think Jurassic Park, but instead of dinosaurs, it’s self-driving cars. Or even more simply: Think a thousand Christines.
I think you’ll have a chance to read that as-yet untitled novel before the end of 2021, most likely as an ebook. But again, I will keep you posted through the usual channels.
Anyone who has been following me for a while knows I’m a bit of a model train nut. When we moved a little over two years ago, I had to tear down a model railway. A few months after we’d settled into the new house, I began work on another. And if there has been any upside to the pandemic, it’s that it has given me a lot of extra time to work on this latest layout.
Here are a couple of very cool video snippets of it on Facebook:
And from the beginning, I’ve had help. Our 36-year-old son, Spencer, has been able to make huge contributions to this layout given that our move brought us to within a few minutes of his place. And he’s definitely the guy to help me. He is a model-builder and miniaturist by profession, and is one of the people working on Little Canada, an entertainment exhibit set to open in Toronto later this year. You can check it out here.
Spencer did a lot of work on the layout since the pandemic began, but only when we were out of the house. Here’s a shot of him at work on
All for Now
I’ll be back with more news soon. Thanks again for subscribing to the newsletter!
And please be safe. Wear a mask, keep your distance from others except for those in your own household, and when the chance presents itself, get the vaccine. We will come out the other side of this. I long for the day when I can go to a diner and be treated rudely by an abusive waitress.