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Author Tag-Teaming

12 books or series started by one author and finished by another

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • May 26, 2024

Many authors never stop writing, even as they near the end of their lives. It is also common for authors to have a fair number of partially finished manuscripts that they've set aside meaning to get back to them at some point. In other cases, authors have outlined an entire series of books, but are unable to complete them all. This means that brilliant stories can be left in the dark when an author passes away. At that point, their surviving family members or colleagues may endeavor to add to their legacy by completing these works. Sometimes called continuation books or series, these twelve tag-teamed projects were all started by one author and finished by another.


A history-making eruption amidst terrifying government secrets. Before his untimely death in 2008, Michael Crichton started working on this passion project. Knowing how special it was, his widow held onto his notes and the partial manuscript until she found the right author, James Patterson, to complete it.

The Assassination Bureau

A three-author tag team? This thriller was based on a story idea Jack London purchased from Sinclair Lewis in early 1910. London wrote 20,000 words of the novel before he gave up on it, saying he couldn't come up with a logical ending. It was completed by Robert L. Fish nearly fifty years after London's 1916 death.

The Buccaneers

This novel about love in the gilded age, was begun by Edith Wharton but left unfinished when she died in 1937. Marion Mainwaring used Wharton's outline to  complete the novel in 1993. Recently adapted into a new series on AppleTV+, the story follows five wealthy American girls who go to London to find husbands.

A Monster Calls

This YA fantasy was based on an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. Unable to complete the project before her 2007 death from cancer, her editor asked Patrick Ness to write the moving novel, illustrated by Jim Kay (Harry Potter), which centers on a young boy struggling to cope as his mother battles cancer. 

The Gathering Storm

Realizing he probably wouldn't be able to finish his Wheel of Time series before his death in 2007, Robert Jordan left behind extensive notes so his ideas wouldn't be lost. His widow and publisher chose Brandon Sanderson to complete the book, which, under Sanderson's prolific pen, became three.

The Girl in the Spider's Web

Stieg Larsson tragically died of a heart attack in 2004 before any of his bestselling Millennium series were published. In 2013, David Lagercrantz was tapped by the Swedish publisher of the series to write a fourth novel. He added two more after that. And a seventh installment came from Karin Smirnoff.

Poodle Springs

When he died in 1959, Raymond Chandler had completed four chapters of the eighth novel in his Philip Marlowe series. In 1998, on the occasion of the centenary of Chandler's birth, his estate asked crime writer Robert B. Parker to complete the hardboiled detective series.

The Children of Húrin

This epic fantasy novel, set thousands of years before the events of The Lord of the Rings series, is one of several volumes begun by J. R. R. Tolkien before he died in 1973. His son, Christopher Tolkien, took up the charge of completing this book, along with The Silmarillion and Sir Gawain and the Green.

The Pale King

Before his death by suicide in 2008, David Foster Wallace left a 1,000-page manuscript he had been working on for over a decade in a file on his computer found by his widow. His friend and editor, Michael Pietsch, trimmed 500 pages from the unfinished, yet compelling, novel and published it to much praise. 

Thrones, Dominations

This murder mystery continues the stories of amateur detectives (and newlyweds) Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane. It was started by Dorothy L. Sayers, but unfinished at the time of her death in 1957, and completed by Jill Paton Walsh in 1998. Walsh went on to write three more installments in the series.


This book was derived from another unfinished manuscript Michael Crichton was working on at the time of his death. Finished by Richard Preston, this novel explores themes similar to that of Jurassic Park. Guests invited to a tropical island to experience a new technological wonder end up fighting for their lives.

The Last Theorem

Suffering from ill health and writer's block, Arthur C. Clarke asked Frederik Pohl to finish his final ambitious novel tackling the epic themes like modern warfare in a post-nuclear age and mankind's first contact with extraterrestrials. Clarke reviewed and approved the final manuscript just days before he died.

What a gift it is that the brilliant ideas of luminaries who've passed away have been carried forward by those left behind! Let us know about other inspiring tag-teamed novels if we've missed them here.

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