Did You Know John Steinbeck Wrote an Unpublished Werewolf Novel?

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Professor Gavin Jones is a specialist in American literature who teaches at Stanford University. In June, Cambridge University Press will release his latest work of nonfiction, Reclaiming John Steinbeck: Writing for the Future of Humanity. The book reveals that, years before Steinbeck became a famous writer best known for his novels about life during the Great Depression, he wrote a werewolf novel called Murder at Full Moon (which the author wrote under a pen name: Peter Pym).

Unable to find publication, Murder at Full Moon has been archived at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

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Now, Jones is hoping Steinbeck’s estate will finally allow Murder at Full Moon to see the light of day, some 90 years after its inception.

“It’s certainly not Steinbeck the realist, but it is Steinbeck the naturalist, interested in human nature,” Jones told The Guardian this weekend. “It’s a horror potboiler, which is why I think readers would find it more interesting than a more typical Steinbeck. It’s a whole new Steinbeck – one that predicts Californian noir detective fiction. It is an unsettling story whose atmosphere is one of fog-bound, malicious, malignant secrecy.”

According to The Guardian:

Set in a fictional Californian coastal town, Murder at Full Moon tells the story of a community gripped by fear after a series of gruesome murders takes place under a full moon. Investigators fear that a supernatural monster has emerged from the nearby marshes. Its characters include a cub reporter, a mysterious man who runs a local gun club and an eccentric amateur sleuth who sets out to solve the crime using techniques based on his obsession with pulp detective fiction.

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At the time of this post, however, Steinbeck’s estate seems unwilling to relinquish the manuscript for publication. Their reasoning:

“As Steinbeck wrote Murder at Full Moon under a pseudonym and did not choose to publish the work during his lifetime, we uphold what Steinbeck had wanted,” Steinbeck’s literary agents, McIntosh & Otis, told the Observer. “As the estate’s agents, we do not further exploit the works beyond what had been the author and estate’s wishes.”

Jones argues, “Steinbeck did attempt to have the book published early in his career, and he did not destroy this manuscript as he did several others. Many authors have their works published posthumously, and write under pseudonyms.”

As for now, all we can do is imagine the terrors that await us in Murder at Full Moon, while hoping the estate of John Steinbeck might one day release the tome.

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Are you a fan of John Steinbeck? Would you enjoy reading Murder at Full Moon if given the opportunity? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram! You can also carry on the convo with me personally on Twitter @josh_millican.



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