Thanks to all of you who wrote and said you were eagerly waiting the Scorpion sequel.  Alas, the machinery of publishing moves slowly and the book won’t be out until Fall, 2013.  I had hoped it would appear this year.  Here is what happens when I send a book in.  First, the editor (Dick Jackson) reads through the manuscript and tells me what mistakes I have made and which things are unclear.  I may have got someone’s age wrong or had plants growing at the wrong time of year.  There are usually very few mistakes.  Then he tells me to write scenes to clear things up.  This time he only wanted two scenes and I did them in an afternoon.  We argued about the title.  God’s Ashtray was too provocative, he said.  He suggested some titles and I said they were wimpy.  We finally agreed on The Lord of Opium.  So far so good.  This is the stage we are at now.

Now the manuscript goes to a copy editor who picks out the spelling and grammatical mistakes.  Spelling is my weak point and so there are usually a lot of those.  She also tries to rearrange my writing to make it look like everyone else’s style.  This I refuse to do.  I have a reason for word order, usually because of how it sounds musically.  I also put in punctuation marks for musical reasons.  A long pause gets a period, a shorter one a semicolon, still shorter gets a comma and shortest of all gets a dash.  To hell with grammar.  The manuscript is sent to me with little yellow post-its all over the pages to tell me where I messed up.  I hate getting the little yellow post-its, but I have to do it anyway.

The manuscript goes back and forth to the publisher, gets read several more times until everyone is satisfied.  I get the final copy before publishing.  Meanwhile, the marketing department is discussing how much they will spend on advertising the book.  They will send out advance copies to reviewers to get the buzz going.  The Lord of Opium will be, as they put it, the crown jewel of the Fall, 2013, catalogue.  Everyone is very excited about it.  I am pleased.

The timing of publishing is important.  Books that publishers are unsure of get published in Spring.  Beach books are produced in Summer and seasonal books come out just before a holiday.  Prime time is Fall.  Sometimes a publisher will decide a book can’t make money and CANCEL the printing.  This is devastating to an author, but it happens.  Adult books have only three months after publication to get noticed and sell.  If it doesn’t do well right away, the books get pulped.  This is also devastating to an author.  Children’s and YA novels have about a year to prove themselves.

This is probably kind of boring information, but some of you might want to know why it takes so long for The Lord of Opium to come out.  I worked extremely hard on this book – eight hours of actual writing with cooking and housework to do afterwards.  I did this seven days a week for three months without a single break.  And it was bad for me.  I didn’t know people could work themselves to death.  The Japanese call it karoshi, which means work-to-death.  The problem is common enough there for them to have a word for it.  After I finished the book I had a slight stroke and wound up in the hospital.  The doctor told me to spend three weeks in bed and I slept for five days straight.  When you create stuff all day you can’t sleep at night and I was sleep starved.  It has taken me a while to recover, but now I’m okay.

The Arizona monsoon started early and while the rest of the country swelters, we have lovely weather.  Bugs, snakes and lizards have appeared from nowhere.  Flowers bloomed.  Javelinas, coyotes, deer and rabbits have shown up.  And the thunderstorms are spectacular!  I love thunderstorms.  I’ll end this note with a couple of the birds in our yard.


Gambel's Quail

7/25/2012 01:48:08 pm

Thank you for working so hard on the sequel! I'm so excited and can't wait to read it!

2/29/2016 06:53:42 pm

What happends in matt and maria's wedding i want to know pleas write another book about there wedding!!! Plz

7/26/2012 05:32:10 am

The new title sounds more impressive and reflects on the new novel more appropriately. I would tend to agree with your editor: the usage of 'God' in this context would be offensive to some.

10/18/2012 07:42:21 pm

I agree. I read the book when I was in 5th grade and have loved it as one of my favorites since. I'm now re-reading it as a college freshman, enjoying it immensely. I am so glad a sequel is on its way, and intend to buy it as soon as it becomes available.

Now for the main point:
I'm a religious man, and from reading the first book I understand how the name God's Ashtray can be developed without the meaning being offensive. However, regardless of intent, the concepts the title suggests that come to mind for me are, 1. God smoked opium, or 2. God is the creation of opium smokers dreams. Both of these are offensive. The title The Lord of Opium suggests exactly the right feel without allowing the mind to gather such a radically different idea about the content of the book.

7/26/2012 06:26:54 am

Such a shame that we have to wait so long, but I'm sure it will be worth it for both your fans and you.

7/26/2012 08:16:24 am

I'm going to 9th grade and I have to read The House of the Scorpion for school. It was a wonderful book! I hope the sequel, The Lord of Opium, is even better! Thank you for giving me an awesome reading experience.

7/27/2012 02:16:28 am

oh my goodness get some rest, Nancy! I am so sorry you were ill! I hope you are fine now and continue to be as such. It's a shame it's going to be a whole year until it comes out, but I'm bloody thrilled for it and I can wait. *hugs* I love you and I love your books sooo much! I don't think I've ever been so excited for a sequel in my life! ^_^ It's a shame the Alacráns and Emilia and Tam Lin and all of them all had to die in the previous book... I'm going to cry if there's a scene where María finds out about it all and breaks down ;_; Poor baby, Matt wil be there to comfort her though. I'll stop rambling now and just say thank you for writing this sequel it means the world to me!

Jazmine A.
8/9/2012 07:06:55 am

I liked this post. It was interesting hearing all about the publication process. I'm hoping to end up as an editor or something when I grow up because being an author probably won't work out well for me, I'm afraid. That "copy editor" job sounds nice. You get to read books and fix all the spelling and grammar at the same time.
Anyway, I'm just as excited now as I was when I first heard you finished the book. The Lord of Opium is just as fantastic of a title as your previous title idea, so I'm certainly not disappointed there. It's pretty impressive that you nearly worked to death.. on a BOOK. That's incredible! This is going to be one epic book, I can feel it!

8/11/2012 01:18:44 am

Nancy I read Scorpion when I was a teenager! I can't wait to see what the sequel holds!! I am truly excited

Sylvia young
8/17/2012 11:43:17 pm

Thank you for your helpful, very personal website. I am happy there is publishing date and I will pounce! Every summer my granddaughter rereads your other books, every winter, I do the same.

8/28/2012 07:20:33 am

THANK YOU SOOO MUCH! i just finished the book today and reread my favorite parts over and over. I cant wait for the second one.

9/12/2012 12:06:38 pm

Dear Nancy, I am so excited that the sequel is coming out. I still have students who thought House of the Scorpion was the best book they had ever read. These were my 7th and 8th grade students taking English as a Second Language, who hated reading. I posted that there would be a sequel and got an immediate response. Thank you for writing the book. And please get well soon.

9/14/2012 09:14:57 am

I have to read The House of the Scorpion in seventh grade, and now you have me REALLY REALLY EXCITED! The first book was awesome by the way! I couldn't stop reading!

2/5/2013 09:51:17 pm

Wow I also read the house of the scorpion in the 7 grade I started telling every body what a good book it was the I come to school one day half the kids there had a copy but most of them ended up not finishing it because the book was to difficult to under stand (my school doesn't have the smartest kids) Anyway A great read thank you Nancy

9/20/2012 01:06:11 pm

You need sleep!!! But, I do thank you for your undying dedication to fulfilling the hearts of every reader. I have read this over and over and am still amazed at your excellence in writing this book. Please, have a wonderful year!

PS. I like the title "the Lord of Opium" a lot, and honestly I do prefer it.


9/20/2012 07:35:36 pm

Dear Nancy, please, take a good rest and take care of yourself. I so worry about you. I have never met a person like you. It is so amazing. Only your works can make me smile, cry.. cause lot of emotions. Thank you so much! If I can be useful for you, just let me know.
Waiting for your new book and thank you for your work

Gavin ryder
9/26/2012 03:06:30 am

Hey mrs.farmer, i have much to tell you and to much emotion to spill on a comment. PLEASE email me at or call me at 405-550-7126

3/4/2013 11:09:54 pm

you should never put your phone number in a public post

10/21/2012 08:49:40 am

Oh. My. Goodness. I just found out today that you have a sequel coming out for H.O.S. My parents were more than a little freaked out because I started running around the house screaming. I read H.O.S. in the 7th grade, now almost four years later, it's still one of my favorite books of all time. I've read it at least six times, and it will be nice to see the characters again. SO excited!
Now that my rant is over, GET BETTER. We're all willing to wait for your book, so don't overwork yourself!

10/30/2012 06:52:49 am

For a school project I wrote you a letter about your book The House of the Scorpion. I would very much like to email or mail it to you and I would rather not post it on your blog. Will you give me your email or address so I can send it to you? Thank you.

10/31/2012 03:22:32 am

I have one quick question whenever you get on again. Is there going to be any involvement from Nigeria in the second book? (And is Fani dead or did she run off?) I just had to wonder that!

11/11/2012 10:47:30 pm

Hello Ms. Farmer! I am an English teacher in Nampa, Idaho, and I have a group of students who are reading The House of the Scorpion for a literature circle project. Later this week I will be asking them to write letters to the authors of their books, and I would love to be able to provide that group with contact information for you. Do you have a mailing address or email address that I could give them? I've included my email address in this comment form so that you can contact me. Thank you!

12/11/2012 09:24:55 am

Thank you sooooooooo much for writing a sequel! I haven't even finished House of the Scorpion yet... but trust me I would have. Except it's my group reading book in my Launguage Arts class and my teacher found out 3 (including me) out of the 4 kids in my group read ahead. So, she yelled at us and told us we were going to have to read another book too! What kind of Reading/Writing teacher yells at you for reading to much!
Anyway thanks again... I can't wait for the sequel.. whatever you are going to call it. Personaly I like Gods Ashtray... writers are supposed to write and entertain, NOT make everyone happy.

1/23/2013 03:46:34 am

This is incredibly exciting! Over the years I have recommended House of the Scorpion many many times. The kids are attracted by the cover, and then I tell them a brief phrase or two about the story and all of a sudden "SOLD!". I have wondered about Matt. Thank you so much!

Sara K
1/23/2013 04:14:04 am


Diane Houston
1/24/2013 09:09:00 am

Hi Nancy, Ever since The Land of Silver Apples came out I've been Googling to see when your next book is coming out and was so excited to see it's a sequel to The House of Scorpion, and I love the title The Lord of Opium (yes, the title is much better than God's Ashtray, if only because it sounds powerful and dangerous, rather than cheap and seedy. However, I applaud the bold creativity of your initial title). As a 51 year old woman, I feel odd posting here when I see the other posters are so young, but your books truly appeal to a range of ages. A good book is a good book, no matter what. I can't wait for Fall.

1/31/2013 05:08:25 am

Best book ever!!!! I'm sure the sequel will be even better. Anybody know if the first one is being made into a movie??

2/6/2013 03:44:02 am

Yea! Yea! Yea! I was so excited when I heard that the Lord of Opium was coming out this Fall. I can't tell you how many students I have hooked on The House of the Scorpion. I have high school students writing to me asking me to make sure I tell them when the sequel comes out. Sorry it was such a labor of love but thanks so so much,
Carole Soden

Beth Hamby
2/21/2013 01:06:38 pm

My 8th grade Lit. class is reading House of the Scorpion and are really really into it. Just today, one of my students was saying that she wished there was a sequel and I am so excited to find out that there will be one soon. I had my son's 8th grade class read it and he is 22 now and it is still his favorite book. Thanks for the great story and really wonderful writing. It really engages the kids and gets them to love to read. I'm sorry to hear what a toll it took on your health and I hope you are doing well now.

3/25/2013 01:43:34 pm

Hello, I am a huge fan of your books and I was wondering if I could speak to the mastermind behind these amazing works that have kept me entertained since I accidentally checked out 1 of our books in the 5th. grade.

If you decide you would like to speak with me please reply to

Your dedicated fan,

4/9/2013 08:26:44 am

thank you for all your hard work and I can't wait to read the next book to the house of scorpion.

Martha Hazard
10/21/2013 09:02:51 am

I had to do a book report on your book and o LOVED it. Thanks for making a sequel. I will read it soon. May you email me your mailing address because for my report i have to mail a letter to you. PLEASE RESPOND!! :)

11/11/2014 07:36:19 am

I have a few questions after finishing this book. Please email me- I have already enclosed my email adress. I don't understand how some of el patron's sayings don't relate to the ending. One that especially resonates with me is "Heed the high cliffs, lad. they keep things out". Also how does the happy man die? Is he forced to be enclosed in the room with dr. Angel and her brother?

12/9/2014 10:30:00 am

I was wondering if you would be able to send me a mailing address to write letters to. This would be great because I have written a letter through the school, but im afraid that I can't send it to you.
Thank you!

12/15/2014 08:45:41 am

dear Nancy Farmer,
I usually don't read books because i thought it was waste of time.
But when i read your book, i felt sympathy and felt like i had to finish the book. I never felt this before and i liked it. I would really appreciate it if you could make another work of yours continuing my favorite book "Lord of the Opium"

1/21/2015 11:20:44 pm

Can you please make a third book? I love this so much and would love to see what you do with the other countries and what happens to farm patrol. Please at least try. Thanks!

Talitha A.
1/21/2015 11:25:22 pm

Dear Nancy Farmer,
Please make another book. The Lord of Opium ended at such a cliff hanger! Did the rest of the world get healed? Did Maria and Matt get married? What happened to Farm Patrol, and even bigger Opium? Please make another book!
-Talitha A.

Emmanuel G.
3/30/2015 01:31:34 pm

Dear Nancy Farmer,
I have been really confused about this. Is your book The House of the Scorpion fantasy or sci-fi.

Oliver Gordon Brewer IV
11/17/2015 09:07:09 am

Dear Mrs. Farmer,

Hello, my name is Oliver Brewer and I am a huge fan of your work. I have read both the Sea of Trolls trilogy and the Matteo Alacran series, but the latter is my favorite. The design of the captivating and fascinating story of the young Matteo Alacran and his struggle against his status as a clone as well as against the forces around him is a stroke of genius. The way you present your audience with morale dilemmas and ask deep questions of your readers is phenomenal. I hope that you will at least consider continuing the series. I would love to see another chapter in Matteo's life.
Your amazing writing style is of particular interest to me as I am an aspiring author and would like to someday create stories as wonderful as yours. On behalf of myself and all your other readers, I thank you. I hope you will never stop writing.


Oliver Brewer

Jerianne B.
11/29/2015 06:48:32 pm

Dear Mrs.Farmer,
Hi, my name is Jerianne, and I absolutely LOVE The House of the Scorpion and The Lord of Opium! At first, my Language Arts teacher, made us read The House of the Scorpion, and I thought that I would hate it because I don't like sci-fi, and because I am very picky about books. But, when I read the first few chapters, I fell in love with the story! We never got to finish it in class, so my dad bought the book and the 2nd one for me. I finished the first one and the second one in 2 days, right after school ended. I have been trying to figure out how to contact you so I could ask a few questions about a possible third Scorpion book? Or any movie options? I know that your offer fell through with the Muppets movie makers for a movie, and I was so upset, although I did like your version of a sequel and your reasoning for it. I know that you are considering writing a 3rd book in a recent interview, and I beg that you do so! Matt's story was incredible, and he's only 15, so there must be another story line. I would love that so much because, those were my FAVORITE books that I ever read! Please reply if you can! I'm crossing my fingers!
Jerianne (The biggest House of the Scorpion series fan) :)

2/29/2016 06:50:09 pm

Dear , Nancy Farmer
I LOVE LOVE your books i just wanted to ask if u can make a book that finishes the house of the scorpion and the lord of opium beacuse matt and maria are getting marred so i wantwd to know what happend and i love your series i res all your books in 2 weeks i just could not stop reading there are so many emotions i was crying then i was laughing next thing you know i was crimying agian i just love your books so much if you have rhe time can u finish matt and marias happily ever after cause i real want to know what happends next do they have kids or does matt die to save maria ?? I have no clue. You must have a good imagination to come up with all these great books.


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