|A Mamas and Papas tribute band|
Lately the tributes have been to the likes of the Mamas and the Papas, ABBA and Louis Armstrong. I confess to once attending a tribute to Jimmy Buffett, not in Largo but back in Ohio, but as a rule I avoid tribute bands. When I want to hear ABBA, I put on an ABBA album. I'm not interested in paying money to hear somebody else pretending to be ABBA.
I feel much the same way about what I think of as tribute writers, those people who, after the deaths of popular authors, continue writing books in the same style and using the same characters. The other day at Barnes & Noble I noticed Robert B. Parker's Bull River by Robert Knott and Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event by James H. Cobb on the shelves. There are still plenty of Parker and Ludlum novels I have yet to read. Why would I want to read these imitations?
In a way, these "tribute novels" don't really pay tribute to dead authors at all. If Robert Knott and James H. Cobb, among others, can write like Robert B. Parker and Robert Ludlum, then maybe what Parker and Ludlum did wasn't so special after all. Maybe any competent writer could have written the same books.
Why would quality writers like Faulks and Winegardner stoop to writing tribute novels? Probably for the same reason William Faulkner wrote Hollywood screenplays. Serious novels usually don't make all that much money.
Undoubtedly there have been more Sherlock Holmes stories written by writers other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle than were ever written by him. Do they really pay tribute to Doyle and Holmes, or are they, like the various tribute bands, just trying to cash in on somebody else's success?