Where the Heck is Heck?


Heck-o, readers on the other side of the magic screen. Long time no…well, no nothing. And if I’m anything, it’s a no-nothing. I have been getting emails lately…that fact in and of itself is less than earth-shattering. Many of you probably receive emails. But the ones I have been receiving have been questioning where, when and/or if the next Heck book will be published. Short answer? Heck-if-I-know.

Here’s the skinny: About a year and a half or so (I forget, exactly, as the wound has since scabbed over), I was told that Random House would no longer be publishing my Circles of Heck series: even though I had already submitted the eighth installment, Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck. The company had recently merged with Penguin, becoming something of a Random Penguin. And while it was still a House, it was sadly no longer my home. I knew that the merger had streamlined the company, with editors sharing offices and having to cut whatever titles weren’t make the cut, editing-time-to-profit-wise. Meaning, my editor was spending more time than was deemed worth it on my books so I (and many authors) were let loose and reintroduced to the wilds of the non-published.

This sucked. And, since I had two titles to go in my series, no other publishing house (according to my agent) would want to publish and promote another publisher’s series. The only glimmer of hope is that MGM have the option to make the first Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go book into a movie. They have had this right for nearly five years; with the project on its second director and…I don’t know: third or fourth screenwriter.

If the movie happens, this would—ideally—renew interest in the series so that I could properly finish it (or as properly as I can do anything). The option has been extended until the end of the year, so hopefully there will be some movement in this area. There are a lot of talented people involved, so I would love to see this project kicked into production! If the movie doesn’t happen…I don’t know. I could self-publish, but I would want the books to be as high-quality as possible and not look, I don’t know…shabby in comparison to what came before. I’m not even sure if there is a market to make it worth the trouble, as the last book in the series Wise Acres: The Seventh Circle of Heck—while being my favorite of the series—only sold about 2,000 copies.  And, the weird thing is, that book is literally printed on money, so each copy is worth at least $10,000. Be sure to buy a carton today! In any case, I’m open to ideas! As I said before, Sadia is finished and I can’t stand to work on something and not have it see the light of day, or the dark of eternal night.

So that, in a nut-job, is what the haps.

I hope you all are well and swell and not swelling in a well.

“Beast” Wishes,

Dale E. Basye


98 responses to “Where the Heck is Heck?

  1. I hope it happens 🙂

  2. Oh, man, my kid was just begging me today to order numbers 8 & 9. This explains why I can’t find them on Amazon. We just discovered the series last month – I finished Wise Acres last week and he is still working on Snivel. We need to know what happens to the Fausters and Lucky and Virgil and everyone. I think I’m going to cry.

    • Begging, huh? One day we will live in a society where beggars can indeed be choosers. But, yes: the eighth book is written yet, while dressed for the ball, has yet to receive an invitation, much less one that is embossed and has that irritating shower of glitter upon opening. That glitter gets everywhere. How did you discover the series, if you don’t mind me asking? Since Random House is putting zero effort into promoting the series and you seldom see them in stores anymore, I’m curious where people happen upon it. I hope your son enjoys Snivel, Precocia and Wise Acres! Those are probably my favorite in the series, at least in terms of writing. By that time the audience was so small I could write whatever I wanted! I will definitely do my best to tie up the series somehow: be it books, movies or even television! Thanks for your note.
      – Dale

  3. Awww, that’s such a shame. But do not go gentle into that good night! You are not unpublishable, just severely under appreciated. I will keep checking for updates and waiting in anticipation for Sadia.

  4. powderriverrose

    So now I know. I’ve been looking everywhere for the audiobooks past Blimpo and finally decided to find your website which, by the way, I love. Your books are great and I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble publishing the finale. Because of my schedules and eyesight audiobooks are the way to go for me. I’ll do my best to promote your books on Facebook. I wish you the best of everything nice.

    • Thanks for your note, Powder River Rose! I LOVED the audio books for the first three Heck installments, but I don’t think they sold well enough to justify doing the rest of the series. I would have loved to have seen (or heard, actually) what Bronson Pinchot would have done with the other books! I know a lot of people (my mom included) who prefer audio books due to their unique circumstances so it’s a shame there won’t be audio versions for the other books any time soon. But who knows? Someday, maybe! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate any promotion…or even just encouraging words. Thanks again and I wish YOU the best of everything nice! Take care, Dale

  5. Random reply here, but I’m a 39 yr old dad, and I love this book series. I can’t believe only 2000 copies of the last one sold! I proudly own one. My boys are 5 and 6, and I’m wanting to get them started. I was going to wait until the whole series was done and I hope you will be able to get the last two published! Good luck with the movie! That would be awesome (or a TV show)

    • Random replies are the best replies, and considering how cultish and “fringe” my Heck series has become, any reply could therefore be relegated as random. Thank you so much for your reply, random or otherwise! I’m glad you love the book series, even though you are somewhat out of my intended demographic…though I enjoyed writing the series and I probably started thinking about it when I was a 39 year-old day, so there you go! Yeah, I was underwhelmed by how the last couple of books sold. Wounded ego aside, I think it was mainly a case of Random House losing faith in it and not promoting it or properly distributing it. They were great with the first few groups, but that level of marketing wasn’t sustained, unfortunately. Hopefully more people will discover Wise Acres, as I think it would be great for middle school english classes, what with all the word puzzles. I’m also hoping your boys will enjoy the series, even if it isn’t formally “finished”…though we’ll see. I have a good feeling about a movie or TV show reigniting interest enough so I can complete the series as intended. Thanks again for your note. Made my day!

  6. Well, if that doesn’t suck in several languages! Si eso no chupan. Wenn das nicht saugen. Si cela ne suce pas.

    • Steve! One of the few positive aspects to Las Vegas (oh…and my mom living there…yeah)! It’s strange that the German translation of “if that doesn’t suck” looks like “where is the night sausage?” In any case, I am readying Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck for self-publication, which is both exciting and frightening (both the process and the book itself). I’ve never self-published before but I really want to get the book out, and then start outlining the end of the series! Thanks, as always, for your support Mr. Fey.

  7. Yeah, German is a fun language. Can’t wait to try it out on some Germans. You don’t think they’ll send me to “Heil” do you?

  8. A while back you said you’d hear about the movie option next month (from a wide back). Have you heard anything you can share?

    • Hi Jeff! Thanks for your query. While nothing is in writing, it seems that MGM won’t be going ahead with making the film. Apparently, they couldn’t find a distributor for a film about dead kids (granted, a completely ridiculous film about dead kids). If this is indeed the case, the rights will revert back to me and I will try to shop them somewhere. I would love to see Heck as a cable or Netflix series, personally. I think it would be far better that way then condensed and diluted into a big-budget film. We will see. In any case, I will share whatever news I get when I get it!

  9. meluvdisney098

    Nooooooooo!!!!! I loved this series when it first came out. Sending the wellest of wishes towards your ventures. Hopefully this series will be made into a movie or tv show. Will be promoting this book series because it’s amazing!

    • Thank you so much for the well wishing, meluvdisney/aureliamoore! May you be swell, as well, and never swelling in a well. I’m working on a TV pitch, so fingers/toes/and eyes crossed! Thanks so much for promoting my humble ouevre, or whatever french word means “a bunch of books.” Every little bit helps!
      Take care,

      • I immediately jumped to conclusions and started imagining a cartoon based on Heck.

      • Drawing conclusions is almost as fun as jumping to them, and far less work! In any case, first I was very anti-cartoon for Heck but now, as I shop it around, I’m much more open to the idea. It’s much more feasible to, production-wise.

      • Indeed! It might be easier to adapt certain elements of the series in a cartoon format, especially if the animation has the right tone. For some reason, I could see Heck being rendered in a style similar to The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy.

      • Ooooh…I’d never heard of The Grim Adventures Of Billy And Mandy. Has a very Ren & Stimpy style which was such a HUGE cartoon for me growing up! I totally agree that it will all live or die (or, in Heck’s case, die or die more) on the tone. Also the vocal talent. I think if those elements are just right, then it could really take off! I’m sure you are WAY too young to remember the Sid & Marty Kroft shows in the mid-70s (I don’t know if they were ever syndicated, so there really would be no way for you to have seen them) but there were a few that featured real characters against animated backdrops. Of course, it looked pretty bad due to the technology and the aesthetics of the 70s, but I would be curious if such a thing could be pulled off with Heck.

      • I’ve never seen The Sid & Marty Kroft Show, but I read about it when I did some research on comedy shows from prior generations. I think that it would be effective to try to emulate the animated setup. I’m picturing a fall through a real tunnel and then a giant, pastel-colored cartoon bouncy house.

        This actually reminds me of an upcoming Fox sitcom. I’ve been reporting on it for a site that my friends and I made. The show is called Son Of Zorn and it’s about Zorn, a barbarian from a strange land who returns to reconnect with his ex-wife and son. The twist is that Zorn is an animated character and his ex-wife and son are live-action. Different tone, similar productions.

      • I think the Sid & Marty Kroft Show was the closest thing to an audio/visual hallucinogen that I’ve ever seen. In any case, yes: I can see the fall through a real tunnel to a surreally awful animated world as well! I saw a promo for Son of Zorn and it looks hilarious. Love the execution.

      • That’s wonderful! The closest that I’ve come to that would be writing an essay on diversity in late night comedy talk shows.

      • Cool! I’d love to read that! To further date myself, my report relied heavily on videos I recorded with my family’s brand-new Sony Betamax video recorder!

      • Cool! I wish I could make a video for school.

      • It’s funny (literally) but I also did a report on the history of comedy for my school, heavily leaning on Saturday Night Live and Monty Python.

  10. Wendy Emlinger

    Could Amazon ‘publish’ Sadia as a Kindle book? I’d pay to read it and I’m sure your other fans would, too. I’ve bought all your Heck books so far (Twice. The first batch I gave to my library at school and the second were for me.) and I’d really like to reach the end of the story. Random is run by idiots.
    Wendy (retired librarian)

    • Hi Wendy!
      Thanks for the note! My plan is to indeed have Sadia available as an eBook, and I assume I would be able to make it Kindle friendly. That’s the plan, anywhoo. It will be an interesting experiment! It’s being proofed now and Bob Dob is working on some cover ideas. Super exciting. I will make a big stink about it (a bigger stink than usual that is) once everything is all awesome and ready to be consumed. I’ve always thought that people (or whatever) should buy multiple copies of my books. Some for collecting (just throw them in the safe or have the butler do it for you), some for traveling, some for reading in the bath, some for presents, and some to burn if you are so disposed. I wish more people (or whatever) had gotten into the Burn Heck movement, as long as they bought their copies, I’m totally cool with it. And I would like to reach the end of the story too. I miss Milton and Marlo. I had spent a lot of time with them and now we are like awkward ex-roommates (the “room” in question being between my ears). Now it’s all cobwebs and strange up there. I want to finish up their story…I have it all sketched out but need to commit to finishing it. Hopefully there will be enough interest in Sadia to justify wrapping everything up!
      I hope you are doing well and swell retired librarian Wendy. Librarians are the absolutely most funnest people. The few I know can drink me under the table (liquor, tea, milk…it doesn’t matter.).

  11. I sure hope that you find a publisher for the other two books. I loved them and recommend them to young readers at my library.


  12. Jokes aside, I hope the next one sells like popcorn at a matinee.

  13. Hi! Will the Kindle book Sadia be available soon?

    • Hi Rose!
      The artwork is being done now. I hope everything will come together by the beginning of the year! I will announce the release on my website and on Amazon, etc.
      Thanks for the note!
      Dale Basye

  14. That is so AWESOME. It’s a shame you lost money on it though and from more potential sales…will the last book Dupli-City still come out too?

    • Hi Rose (…is a Rose…)
      Thanks for reaching out! We’ll see what happens with Sadia. I have Dupli-City all mapped out and would love to finish it. Self-publishing might be the way to go with it because, so far, it looks like it will have to be HUGE. We’ll see…if there’s enough interest in Sadia, I’ll definitely do it.

  15. I don’t have a huge audience, but I do have a platform. I’d be happy to help promote the next Heck. (You may remember from my Amazon reviews that I like the books a lot.)

    • That would be so cool if you and your sister Tina could help promote the next Heck! My dad used to have big platforms but he hardly ever wore them after the 70s. Seriously, though: this would be really great. And of course I remember your reviews: I kept reading them, thinking, “Hey: I don’t remember paying some guy named Steve Fey!” I’ll let everyone know when Sadia is ready. Just saw Bob Dob’s preliminary sketch of the cover and it is, unsurprisingly, wonderful!

  16. Yes please please please do the last book. I might spread Sadia around IRL and on my social pages too.

  17. I have loved the series and bought them all when they were originally published. I keep checking your website and hoping you can get a publisher. At the very least can you give us a plot outline of the last 2 books?

    • Hi Mark!
      Thank you for your kind words regarding my terrible, very horrible, not-quite-for-everyone series. I will definitely be updating my site in the months ahead as Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck nears completion. So close. And if enough people purchase the book, I will take that as an unholy sign that yes, I should finish the series! So I think I will keep the plot outlines under-wraps unless I just decide to be done with it!
      Have a happy holiday, if that is something you indeed want. And who wouldn’t?

      • If you do publish the next book, I would love to purchase it. My son and I have enjoyed the series since it first came out. I spotted it on the shelf at a bookstore, and said to my son, “With a title that clever, this author earned my money.” We have purchased each book as soon as they hit the shelves. We even bought a second set so he could bring them to overnight summer camp and share with his friends.

        I am a funeral director, so you humor is right up my alley.

        If you are willing to allow me to purchase an unedited advance copy, I would love to read it, as would my son.

        Best regards!

      • Hi Adam,
        Sounds like you put the “fun” in funeral director! Thank you so much for your comment. Made my day! I’m delighted you and your son are enjoying the series together. Extra points for a “safety” set for camping! I wish everyone had the foresight to do that, then I would have twice of practically nothing. I am proofreading the next book currently while the cover is being finished. I will let you know when it’s done. I would hate for anyone to have anything unedited: especially since I am catching stupid little mistakes I should never have made in the first place! Soon…
        Thanks again!

  18. Frenemy: Authors who write wonderful books, and series of books, but don’t finish the series or write another book …. Surely there is a circle of Heck just for them?

    • Alas, Mark, I would share this piteous circle with countless editors and agents who have showered me with lukewarm indifference in regards to future work! Which is to say, it ain’t for lack of trying! I have submitted several manuscripts and dozens of ideas but nothing has “connected”…I very much want to continue, not only the Heck series, but other ideas I have burning in my brain pan…mmmm…burnt brain pan…just like mom used to order the cook to prepare. Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck will be ready for public consumption soon, ideally before spring has sprung. If there is enough interest, I will stitch my notes for final Heck book together and push that out as well. Meanwhile, I have a few books I want to pursue and, if self-publishing seems viable, I will release them that way since I have lost confidence in traditional methods.

      • I look forward to it with great anticipation! And I would also love to read other works you can get published. I am currently attempting to influence Amazon by repeatedly typing “Sadia 8th circle Basye” while logged in.

      • Thanks so much, Mark, and yes! Jam those search engines with queries!

  19. Dale, are you looking to publish in a physical format, or e-book? Eagerly anticipating the final circles of Heck! Basye’s Inferno

  20. Was the cover art done by then same guy? Bob Dob? Thanks for the news!

  21. oceanfullofroses

    Hello! I love this series so much. Will Sadia: The Eighth Circle of Heck be out this year? Even if it isn’t, good luck!!

  22. Eagerly anticipating the release! I will make sure to buy a hardcopy to donate to my local public library and an ebook for myself to read on Kindle!

  23. Dear Dale,

    I’m writing to you from a strange corner of the state of New York where I have just begun my second year in college. Last year I finally managed to get my hands on a copy of Wise Acres, which I eagerly read alone in my dorm room, cackling and feeling nostalgic for the good old days of reading and re-reading the first few books when I was an equally outcast middle-schooler.

    Then I trundled along to your blog to see where the heck the next book was, and happened upon this post. And boy, was I put out. So put out that I didn’t come back for a year.

    I told all my friends and family, who responded with the lukewarm pity of those who have to pretend to care lest they risk violating social norms. I mulled over it. I blamed myself for not leaving enough Amazon reviews. I blamed myself for not starting a Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go bookclub at every institution I enrolled in. Then, I realized this was a betrayal: not just for you, but for me. I remember in vivid detail being a socially awkward 12-year-old, wracked by the pains of puberty and parents divorcing and impending adulthood, sending an email and receiving the only certainty in my entire world: quote editor Diane Landolf, “I have every reason to believe that we will publish books about all nine circles of Heck.”

    Boom. Childhood dreams = crushed.

    I felt guilty for ignoring this new reality, this world without Heck, as it were. But apparently it was a boon that I delayed the process of writing this message, since I now see that Sadia will be released to the world, against all odds! I’m delighted to hear that it will now be self-published, as this is an avenue that many of my amateur writing friends have explored with little success, as they are, unlike you, amateurs.

    I am excited beyond words to see that Heck will have a conclusion, and I will definitely rally my own band of reluctant readers to share this amazing series with. It is my hope that each and every one of their progeny will learn to read using Heck, since I’m still crossing my fingers in the hopes that I am sterile and will never have to put a child through the special torture that is growing up.

    So in conclusion, good luck in shepherding Heck into this new era of greatness! I look forward to the updates, and I intend to make a small sacrifice every night to the Netflix gods (their domain is college campuses, where their influence is strong) in the hopes that they will pick up the series for an animated show. Best wishes, and thanks for making my day! Or maybe even my week!

    Your longtime fan,

    • Hazelle D-Ler(i)um!!

      So great to hear from you! I still remember you and your friend (Katie?) coming to my terrible book event at the mall…terrible because usually I have a slide show and stuff like that to distract from my social awkwardness, but I had no such luck at that event.

      Congrats on your second year of college! While the fact that one of my “fans” is already in college feels like a punch in the stomach (granted, a nice one), it’s wonderful that you are blazing ahead and fulfilling your destiny of being an incredibly interesting person!

      I think it’s hilarious and heartening that you picked up Wise Acres to read in between college dissertations and lectures. It must have been weird to re-enter the world of Heck as an adult. I’m glad it brought back hopefully-fond memories. I’m also glad that an outcast middle-ager could create something that connected with an outcast middle-schooler. While I read a lot of adult nonfiction, I still can’t really tolerate adult fiction (unless it’s a classic of some kind). I’m much more at home with YA and middle-grade in terms of sensibility.

      Sorry Heck’s sorry/not-sorry fate put you out and kept you off my blog for a year. As you can tell by my erratic posts, I was pretty put off my blog for a year or so as well. so you’re in good company. And while Heck’s fate is not entirely your fault, I do rest most of the burden on your shoulders. Had you only transferred all of your “growing up and preparing for my exciting new life in New York as a college student” energy into posting Amazon reviews and igniting grassroots Go to Heck clubs then, well…maybe things would have been different for me and my series. But alas, it was not to be. In fact, in retrospect, such expectations almost seem “ridiculous” or “borderline narcissistic” or other words that often come out in therapy…

      Speaking of therapy, thanks for bringing up my former editor’s name! I remember that letter…wow, that was so cool of you to take the time to do that. Those things really helped keep me going! Too bad that all you got in return was more confirmation of the lies pervading the world of adulthood!

      Hopefully you’ll enjoy Sadia…I hope that it doesn’t seem tonally too different from the others, considering the gap. It feels a little scarier and more “adventure-ish” than the others, though there is still plenty of room for wince-inducing puns and elaborate set-ups for feeble jokes. Self-publishing has been a, let’s say involved, process. I view it as a kind of grand experiment more than anything. I don’t quite understand how the self-published can be self-sufficient, but we’ll see how it goes. I was always led to believe that self-publishing was what you did when you couldn’t get something done the traditional route, but a lot of people have made a go of it with great results. I just lack a little of the self-promotion gene, but I will have to summon the courage to shameless hawk my wares or else all is for nought (or nougat…yum…nougat.).

      And if people seem to enjoy Sadia then I will indeed wrap the series up with the next, and final, installment which I have mapped out but only a chapter or two actually written. Things are promising yet slow to develop on the animated front, but the process is really fun. I’m hoping for a harmonic Heck convergence to help fan the flames, or flame the fans, of interest. And I’m sure—many, many years in the future—you will have oodles of progeny who will all enjoy teething on your old copies of Heck. There is nothing more satisfying than literally sinking one’s fangs into a book!

      In terms of sacrificing to the Netflix gods, I feel we all do that with our life-force as we binge-watch: putting our alter-egos on the altar of ego to alter our egos. Something like that. In any case, thanks for making MY day…or perhaps even week!


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