I had some vague idea that this book, Drood by Dan Simmons, was going to be some sort of finishing up of the incomplete Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens. The following quote quickly disabused me of that idea!
Wilkie Collins is the narrator here (and for the entire book), the famous author of The Moonstone.
I privately approached Frederick Chapman of the publishers Chapman and Hall and suggested to him that I could complete The Mystery of Edwin Drood for them if they so chose. I let them know that while no notes for the remainder of the book were in existence—and it was true that none of Dickens’s usual marginal notes and outlines on blue paper have ever come to light for the unfinished portions of Drood—Dickens had taken me (and me alone) into his confidence before the end. I—and I alone—could finish the writing of the entire second half of The Mystery of Edwin Drood for only a nominal fee and equal credit as author (just as the co-authorship of our earlier collaborations had been registered).
Chapman’s response totally surprised me. The publisher was furious. He let me know that no man in England, no matter how gifted the writer might be or might think he was—and he implied that he did not think me all that gifted—could ever fill the shoes of Charles Dickens, even if I had a hundred completed outlines in my pocket. “Better that the world never knows who killed Edwin Drood—or indeed, if Edwin Drood is dead,” he wrote me, “—than a lesser mind pick up the Master’s fallen pen.”
I thought that last metaphor very garbled and grotesque indeed.
It is a good thing this is a fictional account or I’d be mighty pissed at that arrogant ass hat of a publisher. No author is above their works. The book is the thing, the author a secondary concern. If only Wilkie Collins HAD finished The Mystery of Edwin Drood! I’d be a much happier camper right now. Instead, now I’m just seeing red because of an imaginary conversation!