This is kind of exciting. At least for me.

A book I worked on is coming to bookstores later on this year, marking the end of a process that began several years ago when bestselling author Steve Alten and I walked from one end of Manhattan to the other researching a screenplay we were writing called Grim Reaper. That story ultimately became a challenging, interesting, and very dark screenplay that saw nearly identical moments manifest themselves in films as known as I Am Legend and Cloverfield. But the story was too dark and bleak in that incarnation.The script then evolved into a book, written by Steve with input from myself, a book that is the first in a series.

Grim Reaper: End of Days. Today, Steve announced in his newsletter the publishing date for the project.

From Steve’s newsletter:

As many of you may have realized, I stopped mentioning GRIM REAPER: End of Days about four months ago. The reason is that my literary agent and I were debating whether to sell it to a major publishing house under a pseudonym. Many authors do this when debuting a new series, and GRIM REAPER is entirely new. It s also the BEST novel I have ever written, it is my STAND. Two long years of research and writing went into these 650 pages, and in the end, it is a read you ll finish, then want to read again, simply because you cannot catch everything in one read. I had a few publishing options, but in the end I decided that Variance Books, the independent publisher who sold MEG: Hell s Aquarium would be best. First, they can give the novel the attention it deserves. Second, after all the toil I put into these pages I really wanted it to be under my name. Third, they can launch the book October 1st — far ahead of a larger publisher. With PHOBOS going so well, I needed to space my releases so PHOBOS can be a summer 2011 release.

The concept for GRIM REAPER began four years ago when my friend, producer and founder Nick Nunziata and I decided to co-write a dark thriller screenplay together. Though the story was solid, the limitations of a script held the story back. Two years ago we decided it would work better as a fully fleshed out novel and I set to work, not realizing the extent of the endeavor. Over the coming months Nick and I will be announcing some cutting edge contests and ways for you to be involved. Here s a small taste of the story:

Dante’s Inferno, written by Dante Alighieri between 1308 and 1321, is widely considered one of the greatest and most revered works of world literature. Divided into three distinct parts (Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven), the poem describes Dante’s journey through Hell, depicted as nine circles of suffering. Allegorically, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God, with Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin. Dante composed his life’s work while Europe was suffering through war, famine, the corruption of the Church, and the evils of the pogrom murderous acts that brutally massacred tens of thousands of Jews. Shortly after Dante s passing, the Black Plague would strike Europe and Asia a near End of Days event that killed off half the world’s population while giving birth to a new legend depicted in paintings and dance: The Grim Reaper. What few people know is that Dante Aligheri was a student of Kabbalah, a guarded wisdom that dates back 4,000 years to Abraham, the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Dante s poem draws inspiration from the Zohar, an ancient text that reveals the spiritual heritage of all humankind. The Zohar also warns of the End of Days, a supernal event brought on by the corruption of man that will be the modern-day equivalent of Noah s Flood. According to the Zohar, the event will follow the destruction of strongholds belonging to the future Rome” on the 23rd day of Elul…a date equating to September 11th, 2001.

In GRIM REAPER: End of Days, author Steve Alten takes us on a classic hero s journey of good versus evil, transformation and redemption. Far more than it seems, the story draws frightening parallels between the lack of morality that corrupted Europe preceding the Black Death and the present-day greed that has mired our own society in economic collapse, two endless wars — and a very real covert biological program, exposed by the author, which could lead to global pandemic and our own self-destruction. End of Days is the first book in a planned series that Hollywood might best describe as the Stand meets Dante s Inferno. Adding to the story s literary feel are nine original drawings commissioned by an artist who invokes the style of Dante illustrator Gustave Doré. The book will be released October 1st, 2010 by Variance.Free chapters and far more to come so stay tuned!!

Much more to come, but I figured I’d share a few pictures I took during our Manhattan adventure that led to much of the imagery and experience from the story:

This is from the abandoned catacombs beneath the city. We went underground thanks to some nice Dept. of Transportation folks and got to see an alien world few get to. Scary, real, and utterly cinematic.

Beautiful old cemetery. This place fueled a great sequence from the script and book.

One of many interesting elements of one of the churches we visited.

Ground Zero.

I thought ‘Safety City’ was funny. Also, my wife says I should see if anyone wants to buy our car.