Robert McCammon Previews The Listener

Robert McCammon Previews The Listener

The Listener Preview Event
The Alabama Booksmith, Birmingham, Alabama
December 5, 2017
by Blu Gilliand

More than a dozen devoted fans (some driving from more than three hours away) braved a rainy Alabama night to gather at The Alabama Booksmith for a “preview party” for Robert McCammon’s upcoming Cemetery Dance novel The Listener.

McCammon spent a half hour or so chatting with the fans, taking questions and discussing his upcoming novel. While he originally planned to read an excerpt from the new book, he ultimately decided against it, saying, “This is a hard book to find a place to read that stands alone.” Those in attendance didn’t seem to mind, as the event turned into the kind of informal discussion that many readers wish they could have with their favorite author, but that few actually get the opportunity to experience.

McCammon did speak briefly about the new novel, saying, “The Listener is set in 1942 in New Orleans. It’s about a kidnapping. Somebody asked me if it’s horror. It’s not really horror, but it has a strange element, and the strange element is that one of the two children who is kidnapped is telepathic.”

McCammon also discussed short story writing, the work of Dan Simmons, the influence and impact of Stephen King on the horror genre and publishing as a whole, and his ongoing Matthew Corbett series.

“I grew up watching those great old Hammer films,” McCammon said of the Corbett books. “I wanted to create sort of that atmosphere, not necessarily a horror/monster atmosphere, but sort of a brooding atmosphere.”

I shot video of the Q&A portion of the evening, but my cinematography skills proved to be…dodgy, to say the least. Fortunately, a member of The Alabama Booksmith staff did a much better job, and you can see the results on YouTube.

Robert McCammon signs books at The Alabama Booksmith on December 5, 2017.

Although there was no new book to sign (attendees did have the opportunity to pre-order The Listener), McCammon did spend another 45 minutes signing any books fans brought in. I saw hardcover editions of Boy’s Life, battered paperback copies of Stinger and Gone South, and even an old issue of Twilight Zone magazine featuring McCammon’s short story “Yellowjacket Summer.”

I’d like to thank owner Jake Reiss and The Alabama Booksmith staff for welcoming me to the event and allowing me to roam around their store taking photos. The Listener will be released on February 27, 2018. McCammon will return to The Alabama Booksmith that day for a signing, and I look forward to being there.

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