Dear Readers and Friends,
Wow. The reception we’ve gotten to Last Resort has been nothing short of magical. To say I was worried about how you would like the new books, especially Last Resort, is a Herculean understatement. So, to you, my deepest thank you. Thank you for allaying my lingering doubts regarding the quality of this book. Thank you for continuing to love the Dillard characters. And most of all, thank you for the grace you’ve shown our family over the last five years.
So, what now?
I always wanted to see how you liked this Joe Dillard book before deciding how to move forward. To make sure what I was doing was enriching Dad’s legacy, not tarnishing it. Since the feedback has been so overwhelmingly positive, I’m confident in my vision of how to forge ahead. Here’s what I’m planning to do:
1) Put Presley Carter on hold for now. Contract stuff with Audible. I’ll let you know if/when that changes.
2) Finish Dad’s biography – I know we’ve been working on it for three years, but we have one shot at it. We have to get it right.
3) Spin out a new series focusing on Leon Bates.
4) Potentially create a new series featuring Erlene Barlowe. Still working this out.
5) And finally, and most importantly, I’m going to keep the Dillard Series going. I billed Last Resort as the conclusion to the Joe Dillard saga, and that will hold true. The series will shift to focusing on Jack and Charlie, but don’t worry - Joe will still be around. I think it’s an organic transition to allow Jack and Charlie their day in the sun. Joe’s earned some rest.
You know our family story. I’ve mentioned it a dozen times, but I’ll say it again: Dad was adamant to me in his final months that it was my responsibility to carry the torch. I think the exact words were – “Don’t screw this up” – with a slightly different four-letter word in place of ‘screw.’ Whenever he’d broach the subject of what would happen when he was gone, I’d cut him short. “You’re going to outlive me, man.” His death and what came after were the last things I wanted to discuss. We’d leave it at that. In doing so, I was left with no blueprint for his wishes on how to move his literary legacy forward in the long-term, other than to finish the projects he was working on when he died.
And so, I’ve changed my mind about one very important thing. I’m going to continue to put his name on any book that features a character he created. The more I’ve thought about it, the more I feel like it’s what Dad would want me to do. I’m not entirely sure how I’ll execute it – maybe it’s a Tom Clancy thing where Scott Pratt is on the cover as a sort of brand name. Maybe I’ll keep Dad’s name as a co-writer. I still haven’t quite figured that out. But here’s the truth: If I’m going to keep telling the stories of his beloved characters, he deserves to be credited. And here’s another truth: with the amount of new content flooding the book world, if we don’t continue to release new stories, Dad’s work will fade into obscurity. He would NOT have been OK with that.
The last thing I’ll say in this regard – when Dad asked me to join him on his journey more than a decade ago, I committed to this as a career. I pushed my chips all in on helping him create, publish, and market his work. Based on your feedback to the new Dillard book, I feel like I’ve earned your trust as the steward of these characters. That I’ve earned the right to continue publishing these books with Dad’s name attached. Some of you may not feel that way, and that’s OK. I’m endlessly grateful that you’ve stuck with us this long. But, I had a significant hand in helping raise the Scott Pratt name into what it has become. Tens of thousands of hours have gone into building his brand, his email list, and his following. And now that he’s passed, I’m supposed to let all those years of hard work, of blood, sweat, and tears waste away and become meaningless? He would NOT have been OK with that, either. Ford didn’t stop making cars when Henry Ford died, right?
I’m not the storyteller Dad was, and I’ll never claim to be. But I know what types of stories he wanted to tell, and I know how to tell them. I’ll finish by saying you’ve made all the struggles to finish Dad’s work worth it. I’ll never be able to find the right words to express how much your support has meant to me.
Now that you know how I’m thinking about things, buckle up. If you liked Last Resort, then you’re in good hands. The future looks brighter than it has in a long time.
Jett about to read his favorite book.