Tomorrow, 11/15, Wayward, the sequel to 2019’s Wanderers, is released. (Though some stores are already carrying it, and if you saw me at Doylestown Bookshop on Saturday, you may already have a copy!)
The book, as described by its cover copy:
Five years ago, ordinary Americans fell under the grip of a strange new malady that caused them to sleepwalk across the country to a destination only they knew. They were followed on their quest by the shepherds: friends and family who gave up everything to protect them.
Their secret destination: Ouray, a small town in Colorado that would become one of the last outposts of civilization. Because the sleepwalking epidemic was only the first in a chain of events that led to the end of the world—and the birth of a new one.
The survivors, sleepwalkers and shepherds alike, have a dream of rebuilding human society. Among them are Benji, the scientist struggling through grief to lead the town; Marcy, the former police officer who wants only to look after the people she loves; and Shana, the teenage girl who became the first shepherd—and an unlikely hero whose courage will be needed again.
Because the people of Ouray are not the only survivors, and the world they are building is fragile. The forces of cruelty and brutality are amassing under the leadership of self-proclaimed president Ed Creel. And in the very heart of Ouray, the most powerful survivor of all is plotting its own vision for the new world: Black Swan, the A.I. who imagined the apocalypse.
Against these threats, Benji, Marcy, Shana, and the rest have only one hope: one another. Because the only way to survive the end of the world is together.
Let’s get your procurement options out of the way right now:
There’s audio, too, narrated by the glorious Xe Sands and Dominic Hoffman:
If you want a signed, personalized copy, Malaprops has an order form, but note that the order cut off time is tomorrow (11/15) at 5pm EST.
After that, I can still sign and personalize through Doylestown Bookshop.
And, I will be on tour starting tomorrow (hence why this is posting today) — and you can definitely come see me at those stores.
(The Fountain in-person event is at Sam Miller’s restaurant, btw, not at the bookstore. FYI!)
I think most of the events require registration, and some require masking, so check with the bookstore for sure.
There are of course many ways to support the book — you can absolutely get it from your local library, because libraries are awesome. And if they don’t have it, you can always request it. It’d also be great if you shouted about the book to the rooftops. Hell, beyond the rooftops. To the sky. To the moon. To that stupid car Elon Musk launched into space for some reason? To the furthest-flung black hole and whatever Bizarro Civilization lurks on the other side of it! It genuinely helps when you tell other human beings about the things you are excited about, so if you are so inclined to tell people this book exists, I would be grateful.
To talk a little about the book…
Why write a sequel?
As I noted when Wanderers launched, I intended for that book to be a standalone. I wanted to do a big chonky epic, and then walk away from it like it was an exploding building. That said, I said then that if people actually read the book and I had an idea for a sequel — then that would be the important chemical reaction that would get me to write a follow-up. And the first book ended up being, to be honest, more of a success than I thought it would be. It continues to do really well, and I’m really proud of that and really happy people liked the book and that the readers are showing up for it and sharing the love. It means a lot and that’s why Wayward gets to exist at all.
I’m fundamentally aware though that writing a sequel to a well-regarded book is a bit of a risk, right? Because if I write something worse, I arguably make the first one worse by proxy. It’d be like hitching a shit wagon to a Maserati — it’s only going to slow the fast car down and, y’know, probably get shit all over it.
It was a calculated risk and ultimately, selfish: I really wanted to go back to this world. I had the idea for the sequel while on tour for the first book, and these characters are characters I love very, very much. They are a cast of people I wanted deeply to revisit, to continue their stories, and see where they land.
I admittedly read one review recently of Wayward that suggested, in what I feel was a negative connotation, that it was really only for fans of the first book. Which… I mean, yeah? Obviously? I’m not going to write a sequel for people who didn’t like the first book. Isn’t that the intrinsic nature of writing a follow-up? It just seemed like such an odd comment to make. So, yes, I wrote it for the people who read the first one and who, gasp, liked it a lot. It’s not that I would be mad if this somehow broadened total readership, but the goal is to serve the people who came to the story the first time.
But, again, the real goal is to serve myself. Which sounds selfish and awful (and it is), I only mean, at the end of the day, I had more story to tell, and sometimes, that’s the thing that drives us. Also I am a monster.
Do I need to read the first book?
I would say yes, that’s the ideal. I’ve seen some folks who read only this one, and they seemed to like it and understand it — and Wayward does some work at reminding you what happened in the first one. But… yeah, it’s a follow-up. Read the first one first. I don’t know that you need to re-read it, unless you’re really hankering to, but a first read on the first book is the way to go.
Is this a big book?
It is a chonky book. It’s almost exactly the same size as the first one, weirdly. It’s around 800 pages, 280,000 words.
What did you predict now, you bastard?
Ummm. Well. I dunno. You’ll just have to read it and see? Sorry? (Real answer is of course I predict nothing on purpose. And at least in this one the pandemic from the first book appears to be over? Sorta? Maybe kinda? Ennh?)
Is there going to be a third book?
Well, same rules as the first time: if enough people check this one out and like it, and I have a story figured out — well, then away we go. (I do have a story in mind, though I wouldn’t yet call it “figured out.”) It’d definitely be a departure from these two, though, which definitely form a more complete package, narratively speaking, at least.
Does this book contain a possum?
It does! It contains at least one possum. Also, a couple of wolves. Maybe a fox. Some other animals. Definitely a golden retriever named Gumball who is, I must note with great vehemence, a very good boy.
Anything else we should know?
Just that I really appreciate you checking it out. And if you didn’t check it out, that’s fine, too, I have just taken a mental snapshot of your face and have telepathically uploaded it to the Black Swan servers so that it will forever remember who you are and what you’ve done! I’m sure it’s fine!
Also, check me out on the Dead Headspace podcast!