In a piece of news that we somehow missed in the whirlwind of prescient cats and Philip Roth-baiting that has been the past fortnight, none other than Kevin Costner has landed a deal with Simon & Schuster imprint Atria Books, and not for a cash-grab memoir either. Costner will ‘produce and develop’ the illustrated, serialised adventure novel The Explorers Guild, about the titular ‘clandestine group of adventurers who seek out the places where light gives way to shadow, and reason is usurped by myth’, so I dunno, maybe it does contain elements of memoir after all.
The actual writing of the books falls to author and art director Jon Baird, with illustrations by Rick Ross (not that one, terribly disappointingly). The first instalment of the series – The Explorers Guild Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala – is due for publication in 2014. Costner describes it as redolent of such adventure novels as Arabian Nights and Stephen Crane’s American civil war classic The Red Badge of Courage, taking place during the First World War as the guild searches for the eponymous mythic Buddhist city, encompassing the North Pole, Mongolian deserts and the Himalayas.
If you’re sitting there thinking ‘how very altruistic of Kevin Costner, to lend his name so selflessly to boost the work of an author he considers to be worthy of wider recognition’, then yes, that’s exactly right, except the complete opposite of that. The series of novels is merely the planned opening salvo in a full on multimedia assault, with Costner hoping the concept will spread to ‘multiple platforms, including a feature film that he will star in and produce.’ In other words, the world’s most elaborate retirement plan, which seems to be putting an awful lot of faith in the public responding well to this first book. If you’re now sitting there thinking ‘Kevin, stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen’, well, you’re likely not alone.