Wednesday, December 31, 2008


As Alina Adams, I "co-wrote" a book with Henry Coleman - a fictional character on the soap opera "As The World Turns."

Below is an interview that actor Trent Dawson, who plays Henry, graciously gave about "our" book. His kind words are much appreciated, as is the unique perspective of the actor who brings to life a character I was entrusted to create in novel form:

AS THE WORLD TURNS' Henry Coleman and Alina Adams' joint venture, The Man From Oakdale, hits bookstore shelves on Jan. 6. What's it about? Well, an irate Lucinda hires Henry and Vienna to track down an AWOL Lucy and Johnny. As you might expect, wackiness ensues! Soap Opera Weekly chatted up Henry's portrayer, Trent Dawson, about what a fun read it is — and also about Henry's "jug ears."

Soap Opera Weekly: So...The Man From Oakdale. Henry's secret career as a novelist has been revealed!
Trent Dawson: Yes, pretty secret (laughs)!

Weekly: When did you hear that the show was doing a Henry-centric tie-in novel?
Dawson: I heard about it back in January [2008], and I went, "Okay, whatever," and then in August they were like, "We need a jacket cover picture." I said, "Really?" I still didn't think it was going to happen, but it did! I have been reading it; it's a fun little ride.

Weekly: What do you think so far?
Dawson: I don't know why I haven't had this conversation with [ATWT's and GUIDING LIGHT's creative content producer] Alina Adams, but she has a very good grasp on the characters. It's interesting to see them through Henry's perspective. It's an enjoyable read.

Weekly: I took it on the commute home with me, and was laughing out loud like a crazy person.
Dawson: I don't wanna diminish its value, but it's a good subway book (laughs). I was doing the same. It's funny.

Weekly: She really has Henry and Vienna and their banter down, and Margo and Tom are perfect.
Dawson: What I like is that she's actually writing from the perspective of Henry, so it's actually slightly exaggerated, but it's exaggerated on the right points. That's what's very smart about the book for fans: She's hitting the right buttons and going one step further, because Henry's pretty theatrical.

Entire interview at

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I've said it before....

...but it bears repeating. I was going to post this elsewhere on teh intarwubs, but then my Life's-Too-Short-O-Meter went off, and I didn't post it.

But I saved the text and reproduce it here:

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo was a media tie-in work-for-hire. If Pope Julius II didn't like one of the frescoes, then Michelangelo hauled ass to change it, because the Pope was the one who commissioned the work. In fact, Michelangelo considered himself a sculptor and hated painting, and didn't particularly want to paint the ceiling, but he did it because he was a working artist and Pope Julius was the guy paying him.

The myth of starving artists, and of artists who create whatever they want in order to fulfill a vision regardless of what lesser minds want is just that: a myth, mostly perpetuated by artists who can't sell their work. Most of the greatest works of art in the history of humanity weren't created because the artists had a great vision they had to share with the world, they were created because the artists were paid to do it: the Parthenon, Shakespeare's plays, Michelangelo's ceiling, they were all commissioned pieces. And if the person doing the commissioning wanted changes, then the artist changed it.

(Originally posted on my LiveJournal.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Vanguard Open Secrets" revisions completed!

Cross-posted from Dayton Ward's blog:

Given the length of time that's passed since the last book in the series (Reap the Whirlwind), one of the suggested additions was a sort of "Previously on..." recap for certain points in the series which will be relevant to the new book's plot. I also added a bit of tweaking here and there in order to better set up Dave Mack's still-in-development story for the fifth book. Not sure where things will go from here, but I'm confident the series will continue.

The whole process was sort of bittersweet, given that I was acting on editorial suggestion and direction from the guy who's no longer working for the company. As I don't believe he's ever steered me wrong when it comes to this kind of thing, I felt compelled to honor as many of his requests as was feasible. Turns out it was pretty much all of 'em.

On today's docket: Finishing the notifications to all writers who submitted to theSpace Grunts anthology, and completing the chapter I'm working on for the Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins novella Kevin and I are writing.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Farscape comic book preview!

The first issue of the new Farscape comic book that I'm scripting from a plot by series creator Rockne S. O'Bannon has a release date of 24 December 2008. Published by BOOM! Studios, with artwork by Tommy Patterson, and covers by both Joe Corroney and Dennis Calero, the four-issue miniseries will pick up where The Peacekeeper Wars left off. Rockne considers it an official continuation of the series (season 5, if you will), much like the Buffy season 8 and Angel season 6 comic books from Dark Horse and IDW.

There's a six-page preview and an interview with Rockne at MTV's Splash Page, a seven-page preview (but no interview) at IO9, and an interview with me at The Pulse. Please do check it out, and look for the first issue on Christmas Eve.

It's been a truly magnificent experience working on this comic book. I wrote one of the Farscape novels, House of Cards, in 2001, and also wrote three short stories -- two for the official magazine, one for the role-playing game -- and it's a great joy to return to this universe, doubled by being able to collaborate with the show's creator. I first met Rockne at the publication party that Henson threw for House of Cards, and we've stayed in touch over the years. We've been on frighteningly similar wavelengths for this (which should scare him more than it does me), and it's been a ridiculously easy collaboration.

Monday, November 24, 2008

IRON-clad Praise

IAMTW member Stephen Sullivan's IRON MAN: THE JUNIOR NOVEL got a rave review from Bookgasm:

This summer's IRON MAN was, in my opinion, one of the best comic book movies made — certainly my current favorite, replacing the reigning champ of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE after 29 years. The beauty of the film — besides pitch-perfect acting and characterizations, seemingly effortless special effects, and the tight package in which it is all wrapped up — is the simplicity of the story: a man brought down by his own ego finding redemption through service to the world. The subtlety of his unfolding salvation provides the adult viewing experience that drew all those hundreds of millions dollars to the box office. For the young 'uns, it was the coolness of a guy who's been knocked down by bullies, but gets back up to fight back and win.

And that's how it plays in IRON MAN: THE JUNIOR NOVEL by Stephen Sullivan, featuring eight pages of photos from the film. Sullivan is faithful to the screenplay, while downplaying many of the too-grown-up motivations that might confuse his younger readers. It is, as I say, a good story and difficult to ruin, and Sullivan brings the right tone and style to keep things moving at a brisk pace that should keep even the kids who have seen the movie enthralled.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The "Ghost" Writer

The Ann Arbor News recently published a feature on IAMTW Member Steve Piziks and his new "Ghost Whisperer" novel THE PLAGUE ROOM. The author discovered that there were some advantages to this tie-in assignment compared to the others he has done...
Piziks is no stranger to writing novels based on TV series, such as "Star Trek" Voyager" and "Battlestar Galactica" (the current series). He's also written movie novelizations of 2003's "Identity" and 2004's "The Exorcist: The Beginning."

One of the challenges he ran into when writing this book was learning that "Ghost Whisperer" doesn't have the fan following those other shows have. If Piziks needed to fact-check something quickly, he didn't find any fan sites on the Internet with detailed plot summaries of each episode, as he did with "Voyager" and "Galactica." Instead, he had the DVDs of the series, particularly the first season which is when his novels occur, to fall back on. However, since "Ghost Whisperer" is set in the present, it made writing it easier.

"I didn't have to explain any science. I didn't have to figure out why some bit of futuristic technology couldn't solve the conflict. And the cast of 'Ghost Whisperer' is much, much smaller.

Melinda, her husband, Jim (played by David Conrad in the TV series), and Andrea (Aisha Tyler) were the only characters I had to get 'right,'" said Piziks. "There was less continuity to worry about, since I was working with the first season. All the other characters I created myself, which meant they could do whatever I wanted them to do."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worlds within worlds

In the four-month period between the end of July and the end of October of this year, I had four novels released.

One was an original supernatural thriller called River Runs Red, a terrifying story that builds on real-life occult researches conducted by the U.S. government, combining them with the experiences of three people in El Paso, Texas who had a bizarre and terrible encounter in a cave twenty years ago, with lasting consequences. Finally, it’s a story about gods, monsters, and a possible apocalypse. It was released in late September, and it’s gathering good reviews, and I am, I think, justifiably proud of it.

The other three are tie-in novels. The first, published in July, is 30 Days of Night: Eternal Damnation. It’s hard-hitting, straight ahead horror, based on the best-selling vampire comic book 30 Days of Night, which became a movie last year. The original creators of the comic, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith, are friends, and when I had a day job as an editor, I edited the comic. So when Steve got the chance to write three novels based on his creation, he asked me to be his collaborator.

CSI: Miami: Right to Die came out in August. This one is based on the most-watched dramatic TV series in the world, the popular spin-off to mega-hit CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I also have a history with CSI: Miami—I wrote the first graphic novel based on the show, and even went to the set to present copies to the cast, an event filmed by Access Hollywood (which cut me out of all the aired footage, although the book made it on). As it turns out, this is the final CSI: Miami novel, as Pocket Books dropped the license.

And finally, right around Halloween, came the one I’m really here to talk about: Spider-Man: Requiem.

One of the true joys of writing tie-in fiction—a pleasure authors who only pen original fiction (and especially those who look down their noses at tie-ins as being a lesser breed) never know—is being able to immerse oneself in beloved characters and their worlds. Spider-Man falls into that category for me. I’ve been reading his comics since the ‘70s (and have read back into the earlier stories, from the ‘60s). He’s a global icon, star of TV shows and movies and many other novels. But like most comic book fans, to me none of that other stuff is what really matters. It’s the comics.

Spider-Man wasn’t like Bruce Wayne, wealthy and handsome, with a glamorous babe on each arm. He wasn’t like Superman, invulnerable to almost everything (and I’ve written a novel about him, too—DC Universe: Trail of Time). At the beginning he was Peter Parker, a nerdy high school kid who lived with his aunt, who was haunted by his failure to prevent his uncle’s murder, who wasn’t rich or particularly popular with women. As he grew up, he became a little more skilled with the opposite sex, until he had an almost Archie-Betty-Veronica-ish triangle going with Gwen Stacey and Mary Jane Watson.

Stuff happened. There have been decades of stories, and changes made. The Green Goblin murdered Gwen Stacey. Peter married Mary Jane. More stuff happened.

I have not consistently read Spidey through the years, but when I was offered the job of writing a novel about him, I went back and did some catching up. And the comics were nearly as good as I remembered—some better, some worse, as different creative teams and editors dictated the events of his life over time. But while I was writing, there happened to be what I considered a terrible editorial decision. Peter made a deal with the devil—a deal that I thought the character, as developed over many years, would never agree to—with the result that he would not be married to MJ anymore, and would have no memory of the years they were together. It was a way of pushing the reset button, of extricating future creative teams from what was considered confining continuity, and perhaps of making the Spider-Man in the comics conform more to the one in the huge hit movies, who was not married.

But breaking up Peter and MJ? Sacrilege.

So in Spider-Man: Requiem (which, since it’s what I tend to write most often, is also a supernatural horror story in the form of a Spidey story), Peter and Mary Jane are still married, together, absolutely madly in love. It’s set in the Marvel Universe, but before the events that tore them apart. And it’s clear, in the novel, that nothing—no deal with the devil, no editorial fiat—will sever that bond.

A tie-in writer can’t change continuity. But he can—carefully—comment on that continuity, and can sometimes set a book in a time period that is more suited to his ideal version of the character.

Most importantly, he can play in the glorious sandboxes that formed his imagination, in the worlds he loves. And be paid for it. What could be better?

Other beloved universes I’ve been able to write in recently include Conan the Barbarian’s Hyborian Age, and the worlds of Zorro and the Phantom. I just had a story accepted for an anthology about a particular horror-writer’s universe that I can’t talk about yet. All these things are labors of love. And yet, I make a living at it.

If there’s a better way to make a living, I don’t know what it is.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Salvaging Terminator Salvation

(This is cross-posted from IAMTW Grandmaster Alan Dean Foster's Blog)

Did you ever get the feeling you'd forgotten something? It's been a bit more insane (insanier? insaniest?) than usual here, hence this delayed October update. I am contrite (actually I'm an Independent).

In part this was engendered by the need to completely rewrite TERMINATOR:SALVATION. Actually, a complete rewrite was not requested by the publisher. As is common with films, especially large and complex productions, many things changed between the version of the screenplay I was given to novelize and the final shooting script. The publisher requested four specific changes to bring the novel more closely in line with the final version of the film. This was thoughtful of the editor, since as I read through the final shooting script I encountered numerous other instances where the screenplay had been altered from the version I adapted. Being either a) a glutton for punishment or b) a trufan, instead of simply rewriting the four specified scenes, I rewrote the entire book. I simply cannot do a half-assed job because I am proud of my work, because I need to feel comfortable with the finished manuscript, but most of all because all of you miscellany-pickin' happy readers are always looking over my shoulder. So now the book conforms (hopefully) far more closely to the film that would otherwise have been the case.

Such intense work depends on whether my brain, my fingers, or my eyes will give out first. Fortunately, in this instance all three (just barely) held up until the end. I'm sure the sight of me (literally) staggering around my study as I struggled to keep my balance due to failing eyesight and having sat for so long in front of the computer would have made for an amusing photo-op.

COLD FIRE is now out in the November Analog. FREE ELECTIONS, the first new Mad Amos Malone story in a while, went off to my agents. This week I hope to finish TRANSFORMERS:Infiltration, the original novel that will provide a bridge between the first and second films. After that, I will cool my hands in a bowl of ice preparatory to embarking for three weeks in Malta, Tunisia, and Morocco in the company of James Gurney. I need the break and the sounds of the souk and the empty desert should provide one. Despite unpredictable visa policies that change from moment to moment, we're going to try and get into Libya for at least a day or two. Perhaps the Libyan ambassador to Tunisia is an SF fan. I've encountered readers in stranger places.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A Fantastic Book

IAMTW member Steven Savile's book "Fantastic TV: Fifty Years of Cult Fantasy and Science Fiction" is now available for pre-order on Amazon in advance of its December release. The book also features contributions from many other IAMTW members.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mutant Chronicles is Out

(Cross-posted from Matt Forbeck's blog)

Today’s the big day. My novelization of the Mutant Chronicles film is officially on sale! Run on down to your friendly local bookseller and pick up a copy of your very own—or download an eBook version from your favorite online purveyor of such marvels.

As I’ve said here before, I had a wonderful time working on this book. Fred Malmberg, Jay Zetterberg Leslie Buhler, Leigh Stone, and Thommy Wojciechowski at Paradox were, as ever, a true pleasure to work with, and the same goes for Keith Clayton and Sue Moe, my excellent editors at Del Rey.

The film’s not out here in North America yet, so this is your best chance to get your hands on the story and picture it in your head instead. If you’re still on the fence, check out this short excerpt for a free taste of the whole dish.

Can I Send You My Monk Novel?

(Cross posted from Lee Goldberg's blog)

This email is so stupid, that I have to wonder if it was sent as a prank:

I realise you will get this quite a lot and are probably sick to death of people asking but I have completed a novel about Adrian Monk and wondered if I could send you the synopsis. I wouldn't presume to step on your toes but I have four great plots and have worked them into what I believe is an entertaining thriller.

I know this isn't the usual protocol of approaching people about a manuscript and I should probably go through an agent so I appreciate that I may not recieve a reply. You may also have the sole rights to the Monk novels either way thank you for your time reading this and if you do take a chance and want me to send the synopsis I am sure you will not be disapointed.

Although I have my doubts that the email is legit, I answered it as if it was. Here is what I said...

Why on earth would I, the author of the MONK novels, be interested in reading your MONK novel? Would you send a spec Spenser novel to Robert B. Parker? A spec Inspector Rebus novel to Ian Rankin? A Harry Bosch novel to Michael Connelly? Not that I am comparing myself to Parker, Rankin or Connelly, I am not in their league...I am just trying to make a point about how idiotic your request is. I can't imagine how you could have thought that it was a good idea.

Then again, I can't imagine why you would write an entire novel on spec about a character you didn't create and don't own. I didn't create MONK, either...nor did I write a MONK novel on spec. I was hired by the creator of MONK and Penguin/Putnam to write MONK novels for them ..and now I have a multi-book deal that makes me the exclusive author of the books for several years to come.

I recommend that you write original novels that are NOT based on any pre-existing movie or television property. Tie-ins novels are assignments given to established writers by publishers who have licensed the characters from the don't simply send in a spec HOUSE or THE CLOSER novel to a publisher and hope for a sale.

On top of that, why would you send a novel to another author in the hopes of getting a job (not just any job, but his job)? Authors don't hire authors, publishers and editors do.


Here's a sneak peek at the cover for A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO READ by William Rabkin, the first in a new series of original novels based on the TV series PSYCH. The book comes out in January from Obsidian, the fine folks who publish the MONK. MURDER SHE WROTE, CRIMINAL MINDS, and BURN NOTICE tie-ins.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Del Rey and LucasBooks Announce Extension of Star Wars Publishing Contract and New Multi-Book Series

(From the Official Star Wars Site:)

Maintaining a relationship that began more than 30 years ago, LucasBooks and Del Rey are slated to publish another 45 Star Wars titles from 2009 through the end of 2013. The titles will include 35 novels and 10 nonfiction books.

Since 1976, when Judy-Lynn del Rey took a chance on an unknown movie called Star Wars and published the tie-in novel to unprecedented bestsellerdom, Del Rey Books has published a wide range of Star Wars titles, including movie and video game tie-in novels; original series and stand-alone novels; as well as character guides and non-fiction film books. Every hardcover Star Wars novel from Del Rey/LucasBooks has been an instant New York Times bestseller, and 2008 saw Star Wars in the #1 spot twice on the New York Times list with Revelation, the eighth book in the recent Star Wars: Legacy of the Force series, and with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the tie-in to the upcoming video game from LucasArts. In 2007 alone, the total number of Star Wars books printed under the Del Rey/LucasBooks imprint was over 1.5 million copies.

"Our relationship with Lucasfilm is treasured," said Gina Centrello, President and Publisher of the Random House Publishing Group. "We are extremely proud of our Star Wars publishing program, which is the cornerstone of the Del Rey list."

Howard Roffman, President of Lucas Licensing, said "The legacy of Star Wars publishing began with Del Rey. "For more than 30 years they have been a superb partner with an unflinching commitment to keep Star Wars fans informed, entertained and enthralled."

Among the titles launching in 2009 are the first three in a new Star Wars multi-book, multi-author story arc following directly in the footsteps of the Legacy of the Force series. The nine-book, three-author series, Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi, will break new ground by being the first multi-book Star Wars series to be published all in hardcover. The series, which will be published over the space of three years, will launch in April 2009 with Outcast, by Aaron Allston; the other two authors planning and penning the nine novels will be Christie Golden and Troy Denning. Also to come is The Making of The Empire Strikes Back, to be released in 2010 in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of that film, along with a continuation of the hugely successful series of Star Wars Essential Guides.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Surprisingly, my in-box has recently been filling up with e-mails from people who think they would like to try writing media tie-in books and want to know how one gets started in the field. I've had the question once or twice in the past, but since it's suddenly becoming more common, I thought I would post my response to one of them here--so that I can simply point at it in the future, rather than writing it out every time.

If any other tie-in writers have additional tips, please put them comments to this post, or in a separate post of their own.

The key fact to keep in mind about writing official tie-in fiction is that it's licensed. That means that (for a price) a publisher has licensed the rights to publish the novels from the (in the case of TV shows--the process is essentially the same for books based on comics, games, movies, etc.) TV production company or network that owns the original show, or the "property."

Once a publisher gets the license, then an editor working for that publishing company looks for writers to write the novels. The writers are approached and offered a contract before even beginning to write the novel--it's the reverse of the usual novel-writing approach of writing a book and then looking for a publisher. This means that for the most part, tie-in writing jobs go to writers of whom the editor is aware.

When a writer has reached a deal with the publisher, the first step is a detailed outline, which the publisher then gets approved by the licensor (the TV network or production company). If the outline is approved then the writer can get busy writing the book. When it's done, the whole thing goes in for approval, and then is eventually published.

What this means for new writers is that the first thing you need to do is to become known to editors. This can best be done by developing a track record of professional publications, either with original novels, short stories, games, comic books, or some combination thereof. Then you can go to editors with a proven history of being able to write publishable material.

There are occasional opportunities in tie-in work for new writers. I believe there's an annual Star Trek short fiction anthology, for example, that accepts the work of previously unpublished writers. There might be more such anthologies around. And the occasional novel line that will accept proposals from new writers, too. It can't hurt to figure out who the editors for the novel lines that most interest you are and dropping them a note asking if they're accepting proposals--the worst they can do is say no, and then you've started the process of making yourself known to them, so that when you come back later with some professional credits under your belt, they'll remember you.

Finding out who edits what can be a challenge, but you can start by checking acknowledgments and dedications in the published books, and of course those ever-handy search engines. As a last resort, you can call or write to a publishing company and ask whoever answers.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Tie Ins top UK Bestseller List

From the Telegraph:

Philip Pullman is the bestselling children's author so far this year. According to the latest figures from Nielsen BookScan, sales of his works generated £2.3 million. He is closely followed by Jacqueline Wilson (£2.2 million) and Francesca Simon (£2 million).

However, the bestselling children's hardback fiction was the BBC TV tie-in In The Night Garden: Little Library, which sold 154,198 copies.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tie-in Up the NY Times Bestseller Liss

In his Los Angeles Times essay on Sunday, IAMTW member Tod Goldberg touched on the enormous popularity of tie-in novels. IAMTW member Sean Williams reports that his STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED has hit #1 on the New York Times hardcover bestseller list. We suspect his tie-in won't be the only one on that list on 9/7. This week, Eric Van Lustbader's tie-in ROBERT LUDLUM'S THE BOURNE SANCTION is #2 and IAMTW member Karen Traviss' STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS is #19.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It Burns When I Pee...Metaphorically Speaking

(Cross posted from Tod Goldberg's blog)

In my ever expanding desire to promote literacy through narcissism, I've written an essay in this Sunday's LA Times about the writing of The Fix. Here's a snippet:

You could spend your entire life sitting in Starbucks next to people hunched over laptops, and you'd never hear a single one of them divulge that their dream is to write a television or movie tie-in; you know, those novelizations that magically appear in the airport bookstore rack with the screen stars on their covers.

Me? I've published two novels and a collection of stories that have afforded the kind of notoriety one rarely reads about: I've lost all the awards I've ever been nominated for, my most ardent fans number in the tens of hundreds, and I'd need the Jaws of Life to pull me onto the bestseller list. In short, a career in the literary fiction trenches, where acclaim is something you hang your hat on, since you haven't made enough money to buy a hat rack.

You can read the rest here or in tomorrow's print edition.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Two Goldberg Brothers You Meet in Heaven

(Cross posted from Tod Goldberg's blog)

As I think everyone knows, I'm a huge, huge Mitch Albom fan, so imagine how happy I was to learn that his next book, after The Four Chinese Gymnasts You Meet In Pre-School, would be called The Two Goldberg Brothers You Meet In Heaven! And keep an eye out for the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie based on the book, starring Lou Diamond Phillips as me and Levar Burton as Lee, with special guest appearances by Rosie O'Donnell as our sister Linda and Illeana Douglas as our sister Karen...

In celebration of this exciting honor, my brother Lee and I have decided to go out on the road to meet the people who will be so inspired by us next year at this time. This weekend we'll be making two appearances and, just for kicks, thought it might be fun to sign some of our own books, too. I'll be signing The Fix and Lee will be signing his 145,032nd Monk novel.

Here are the details:

First, this Saturday at 1pm, we'll be at Mysteries to Die For in Thousand Oaks. If you happen to be one of the many people who've threatened to kill us over the years, this would be a good one to attend as our sisters will be there, too, and you can take out the whole family.

Then, three hours later, at 4pm, we'll be at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. My understanding is that for this event they are anticipating over 150,000 people, but my numbers could be slightly off.

If that still doesn't satisfy you, I anticpate stopping off at the Starbucks on the 210 in Rancho Cucamonga at about 7pm and would be happy to sign anything you might have then, too. Alternately, I might roll by the Baja Fresh across from Ontario Mills at about the same time, so watch this space for continuous updates.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More STAR TREK translations

(From Dayton Ward's blog)
Thanks to a heads-up from defcons_treklit, I can verify that CrossCult, the publisher responsible for German translations of the first three Star Trek: Vanguard, plans to publish a translation of Open Secrets, and release their edition (titled Offene Geheimnisse) in May 2009 simultaneously -- or, pretty close, anyway -- with the regular English-language version. You can see their page for the entire Vanguard series here.

According to the site, they also plan to translate the existing line of Star Trek: Titan, beginning in November 2008.

Woo to the mutha-effin' Hoo.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Latest News from Karen Traviss

(Cross-posted from Karen Traviss' website) Talking of endearing rogues in saucy armour, ORDER 66, book four in the Republic Commando series, is out on September 15. After that, the books continue as IMPERIAL COMMANDO. (Because that nice Emperor Palpatine said so.) Other upcoming Star Wars books from me include a Boba Fett novel and an essential guide to the military. (See theDel Rey interview.) I'm also working on a new series of my own that's a bit of a departure from the Wess'har Wars and my usual SF, as well as what I can only describe as "other projects" at this stage. So no rest for the wicked. It's a grand life if you don't weaken!

The Oh-So-Tiresome "Canon" Discussions

You know why every single discussion about canon on the Internet (and elsewhere) is stupid?

Because nobody has once asked Christopher Nolan or Jon Favreau if they're "worried" or "concerned" about the fact that neither Iron Man nor The Dark Knight are canon. I, meanwhile, get that question all the time...

I'm constantly hearing from assorted keyboard monkeys talking about how they won't read tie-in fiction because it isn't canon, which is why they read the Star Wars novels -- which, by the by, aren't canon, either, and anyone who tells you they are is lying, and as evidence I point you to a) the history of the Fett family and b) the upcoming Clone Wars animated film, which I bet won't be consistent with the various CW novels and comics (not to mention the Genndy Tartovsky animated shorts) that are allegedly canonical -- and yet I bet not a single one of them has refused to see the most popular movie on the planet because it isn't canon.

And it isn't. The Dark Knight is based on the Batman comics that have been published over the years, but they make no effort to be consistent with them, and ignore them as they see fit. They're not canon. The "canon" of Batman consists of the various comic books published by DC Comics.

No, what we have here is the fact that, in this country, we view things on screen as more real than things in print. Part of it is simple numbers: more people watch TV and movies than read books and comic books. That's why when you adapt a novel into a movie, you've got an entire Academy Award category to yourself (and other adapters like you), but when you adapt a movie into a novel, you're a talentless hack who's just in it for the money (never mind that screenwriters are far better compensated for their work than prose writers).

The people who say they won't buy a Buffy novel or a Star Trek comic book because it's not canon are most likely lying, unless they have also refused to see The Hulk, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, any of the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, etc. for the same reason. It's just a feeble justification for a prejudice against prose in general and against tie-in fiction in particular.

Keith R.A. DeCandido has written flipping great wodges of tie-in fiction, including thirty novels, seven novelizations, twelve novellas, twenty-one short stories, a bunch of comic books, and a partridge in a pear tree in the universes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Classic BattleTech, Command and Conquer, CSI, Doctor Who, Farscape, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda, Marvel Comics, Resident Evil, Serenity, Star Trek (in all its incarnations, plus some new ones), StarCraft, Supernatural, World of Warcraft, Xena, and Young Hercules, and not a single frapping one of them is canon. So there. Find out more about Keith at his web site at or his blog at

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Comic Con and the Scribes

(This is cross-posted from Lee Goldberg's blog. That's a picture of Alan Dean Foster and Lee on the left)

My daughter Maddie and I left the house yesterday for Comic Con in San Diego at 5:30 am and walked through the door of the convention center at 8:30. The Scribe Awards weren't until 2, so we roamed around the exhibition floor for a few hours.

The Scribe Awards and Tie-In Panel was sparsely attended at first, but by the time we were mid-way through, we built to nice-sized crowd. Our 2008 Grandmaster Alan Dean Foster gave a thoughtful, and very funny, speech on the lack of respect tie-in writers get from the publishing industry and their fellowAlan Dean Foster and Lee Goldberg writers, despite the huge success of tie-in books. He applauded the International Association of Media Tie-In Writer's efforts to change that and to increase the awareness of tie-in writing in the mainstream media.

Other panelists included Andy Mangels, Max Allan Collins, Steve Leiva, Kevin J. Anderson, William Dietz and Stacy Deutsch. I must admit, though, that I was distracted for much of the panel by an audience member who had long hair and a beard on one half of his face and was bald and clean-shaved on the other. I couldn't help thinking that he was a man born to drive Adrian Monk insane...

The Scribe Nominees and Winners (noted with asterisks) are below:


CSI NY: DELUGE by Stuart M. Kaminsky
MURDER SHE WROTE: PANNING FOR MURDER by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain


**AMERICAN GANGSTER by Max Allan Collins (nominee & winner)


LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON by Kevin J. Anderson


HITMAN: ENEMY WITHIN by William C. Dietz


52: THE NOVEL by Greg Cox
**30 DAYS OF NIGHT by Tim Lebbon


**NANCY DREW AND THE CLUE CREW #10: TICKET TROUBLE by Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon


**THE 12 DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Steven Paul Leiva (nominee & winner)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Trek Stuff

From Keith DeCandido's blog) As many of you probably know, a bunch of new Star Trek prose projects were announced at Shore Leave 30 this past weekend. Full news stories can be found at Trek Today, TrekWeb, and

I already posted the covers to A Singular Destiny and Mere Anarchy. Here's what else of mine was announced:

There will be another Corps of Engineers compilation next year, Out of the Cocoon, which will be published in December 2009, and which will include four eBooks (the title story by William Leisner bill_leisner, Honor by Kevin Killiany, Blackout by Phaedra M. Weldon [info]meharet, and The Cleanup by Robert T. Jeschonek and a new minipedia compiled by me. (The current plan is to try to do two trades per year that collect eBooks. We'll get Mere Anarchy and Out of the Cocoon in 2009. Still to come are Slings and Arrows and the final three COE volumes, What's Past, Turn the Page, and Remembrance of Things Past.)

In August 2009, there will be an anthology called Seven Deadly Sins. This will feature seven novellas picking an alien species (or, in one case, an alternate universe) that represents one of each of the seven deadly sins.

Big surprise -- I'm doing the Klingons, who represent wrath. Can't say much about the story just yet, but I can say it'll be my first time writing 23rd-century Klingons, which I'm looking forward to.

Here's the whole lineup:

Pride: the Romulans, by Dayton Ward & Kevin Dilmore
Envy: the Cardassians, by James Swallow
Wrath: the Klingons, by Keith R.A. DeCandido
Sloth: the Pakleds, by Jimmy Diggs
Greed: the Ferengi, by David A. McIntee
Gluttony: the Borg, by Marc Giller
Lust: the Mirror Universe, by Britta Dennison

Sunday, July 6, 2008

River Runs Red Cover

I saw that the cover for my new supernatural thriller River Runs Red (Penguin/Jove, October) was starting to show up at various places online--but it's the early "solicitation" cover, and it has Brian Keene's generous quote from the front of Missing White Girl on it instead of the correct David Morrell blurb, so I thought I'd post the right version here. The book earned some lovely blurbs from other writers who I'm honored to be linked with in print, and which I'll share at another time. RRR is the second book in the loosely linked "border trilogy" that began with MWG and ends next year with Cold Black Hearts. You might have to click on the picture to enlarge it enough to read... (Crossposted from Jeff Mariotte's blog)

RRR cover temp_web

The Fix: Behind the Music and an Excerpt

A month from now my first Burn Notice book, The Fix, will be released into the wide world. I'm already well into writing the second book and thinking about the third one, too. It has been an odd process for me for several reasons, not the least of which being that I am typically a pretty slow writer, tend to agonize over every word and have a micro manager's attention to detail as it relates to marketing, art and advertising. I've been spoiled in a way because with Simplify, for instance, my great publishers at OV Books actually listened to my rants and things worked really, really well. (And it should be noted: I am hoping to have good news shortly about my new collection of stories.) With The Fix, it was an entirely different experience. I wrote the book in about 70 days. I have no micromanaging tendencies concerning anything with the art or marketing, particularly since its hard to complain about television ads running on USA, a huge web presence on USA's site and assurances that the book will be in every store in the known universe. Unlike my previous books where I've toured the nation, I'm doing a limited amount of touring this time around -- I'll post the schedule shortly, but it's primarily in the west -- focusing mostly on mystery and crime book stores, which have always shown me a tremendous amount of support for my previous books, and festivals. The reality is that this book will probably sell itself. The other reality is that my ego won't allow me to stay home and hope that happens.

I would be lying if I said writing this book wasn't a challenge. It absolutely was. I've never written a traditional crime novel. Anyone who has read my work in the past will tell you that linear storytelling isn't exactly my calling card. Nor is having a narrator who is reliable. Of course I've written linear work in the past. And of course I've written reliable narrators in the past. But one thing I don't think I've ever written is a hero, even an ironic hero like Michael Westen. My characters tend to be pretty fucked up and of course Michael is fucked up in his own way, too, but not in the "he may have killed his wife and daughter" sort of way. The challenge for me was to convey him on the page in a way that made me enjoy writing him and also was true to Matt Nix's creation.

Which brings up another challenge: I had to remember to be funny. My tendency in writing fiction is the opposite of what I do here on this blog. And of course this blog isn't even really me -- it is some blog version of myself, some stylized version of my life and opinions (I don't say the word fucktard all that often, really) -- so if you pick up a book of mine looking for whatever is you find here, you're going to be disappointed. One of the more common things I hear when I meet people at book signings and such is, "I bought your book thinking it would be really funny. But this is really different. It's serious!" Which I guess is the hazard of keeping a blog. At any rate, I gave myself the freedom with The Fix to let go of some of my literary pretension, leaving that for the short fiction I wrote this year, and hopefully found a voice that would give readers what they want in terms of the humor of Burn Notice.

After the book comes out, I'll post some other interesting stuff about the book -- including a little bit about the Easter Eggs I put in the book, which will be part of a contest I'll run here for people who happen to be fans of the entire family of Goldberg siblings and can spot all of the allusions I've made to previous works by all of us -- including some stories about the actual writing of scenes and such (there is one notable scene that occurred while I was literally freezing to death in Vermont).

Until then, Penguin has posted a pretty extensive excerpt -- the entire first chapter -- here. The spacing is a little funky in places -- some of the dialog gets shoved together in odd ways -- but it will give you a nice flavor for the book.

(Crossposted from Tod's blog)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

IAMTW at BookExpo

IAMTW co-founders Lee Goldberg and Max Allan Collins signed their Scribe-nominated MONK and CRIMINAL MINDS novels at the BookExpo convention in Los Angeles last weekend. Other Scribe honorees featured at the convention included Marv Wolfman (SUPERMAN RETURNS) and Christa Faust (SNAKES ON A PLANE), while 100s of galleys of Steve Saville's new TORCHWOOD tie-in were quickly snapped up from the Titan Books booth by booksellers and librarians.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Has New York Become Too Safe To Write About

IAMTW Grandmaster Donald Bain was among the mystery writers interviewed by the New York Times on how crime writers are adapting to a safer city.
As New York celebrates the sharp decline in crime — earlier this year the city revealed that the 494 homicides in 2007 were the fewest since reliable police statistics became available in 1963 — the crime writer may be the only New Yorker for whom that drop is not an unequivocal blessing. Just as the breakup of the Soviet Union caused problems for writers whose plots hinged on the dark doings of the cold war, so New York’s crime writers are wondering where to find grist in a far safer city.

[...]Sometimes New York’s crime writers grow wistful about the bad old days for unexpected reasons, as was the case with Donald Bain, the highly successful author of more than 30 “Murder, She Wrote” books along with other crime novels.

In January, Mr. Bain was the main speaker at a meeting of the Mystery Writers of America, held at the National Arts Club, opposite Gramercy Park.

At dinner in the club’s high-ceilinged dining room, Mr. Bain, a tall man with a white beard, reminisced about the early ’90s, when his daughter lived on Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village. Her apartment building was next to a social club run by Vincent Gigante, a k a the Chin, the mobster whose associates used to sit outside the club, playing cards and drinking late into the night. If one of the men saw his daughter emerging from the subway station a few blocks away, Mr. Gigante dispatched one of them to walk her home safely.

The other writers at the table laughed, but their laughs were tinged with nostalgia for a vanished version of New York that could hand you a scene, just like that.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Monk Galley Giveaway

I have two extra, bound galleys for MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY which I will be giving away at random.

Here's the a review of your favorite MONK novel on Amazon and send me a copy of it by June 1st at: lee AT Leegoldberg DOT com.

I will put the names into a hat and select two winners at random to receive a signed galley. Please be sure to include your snail mail address in the email. Winners will be announced here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Scribe Awards and How You Can Enter

The Fourth Annual Scribe Awards are now open for submissions. The Scribes, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (, honors excellence in licensed tie-in writing—novels based on TV shows, movies, and games. Here are the submissions guidelines:

The Scribe Awards and How You Can Enter

The IAMTW will present SIX AWARDS in THREE CATEGORIES for books (& comic books and graphic novels) published in 2008. We will also honor one "Grandmaster" for career achievement in the field.

SPECULATIVE FICTION (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Supernatural Horror)

BEST NOVEL (original) - A licensed, original novel using pre-existing characters or worlds from a movie, television series, computer game, play, or an existing series of novels (i.e., new novels extending a literary franchise, i.e., DUNE, James Bond, etc.)

BEST ADAPTATION - A licensed novelization based on an existing screenplay, whether a feature film, episodic teleplay, computer game, script, or play.

GENERAL FICTION (Mysteries, Thrillers, Westerns, Suspense, Historicals, Psychological Horror, Romances)

BEST NOVEL (original) - A licensed, original novel using pre-existing characters or worlds from a movie, television series, computer game, play, or an existing series of novels (i.e., new novels extending a literary franchise, i.e. DUNE, James Bond, etc.)

BEST NOVEL (adapted) A licensed novelization based on an existing screenplay, whether a feature film, episodic teleplay, computer game, script, or play.

YOUNG ADULT (All Genres)

BEST ADAPTATION (defined as above)

BEST NOVEL (original) (defined as above)

GRANDMASTER (For Career Achievement)

The Fine Print Regarding The Categories…

For a category to go forward, three submissions leading to at least two nominations must pertain. In the case of a category falling short of submissions and/or nominations, entries will be transferred to the nearest appropriate category -- for example, BEST GENERAL (Adapted) category would go into an overall BEST NOVEL (Adapted) category that would include both Speculative and General submissions.

In the case of BEST ADAPTED (YA) or BEST ORIGINAL (YA), should submissions fall short of the minimal two nominations requirement, entries would shift into either BEST SPECULATIVE (Adapted) or BEST GENERAL (Adapted), depending upon the genre.

In the event a combining of categories becomes necessary in a given year (i.e., BEST NOVEL Adapted) the judging committee is authorized (but not required) to give more than one Scribe, reflecting the combined categories, if the committee members feel such recognition is warranted.

Horror entries have been divided into "Supernatural Horror" under SPECULATIVE and "Psychological Horror" under GENERAL. This is a judgment call the authors and then committee chairs must make, depending upon whether a submitted horror novel is more grounded in reality than the fantastic. Should a committee chair reject a title on this basis, the chair will forward all copies of the submitted book to the appropriate committee chair, and inform the author of the decision.

Should the author already have submitted another title to the other committee, the author will be given the opportunity to choose which of the two titles he or she wishes to have considered (since we have a one-book-per-category submission limitation).

The future of the Special Game-Related Scribes will be decided after this year's Gen-Con. If we decide to continue this award, game-related submissions in the Speculative Original and Adapted Categories will be simultaneously considered by those category judges for the "Best Game-Related" Scribes. A gaming-related book submitted in those categories is simultaneously eligible for both the "regular" and "game-related" Scribe Award.

How The Scribes Are Judged

The judging committees are made up of three of your peers from within the organization, writers who know the unique obstacles and restrictions that tie-in writers face, because they are tie-in writers themselves. The judges will read all the submissions in their category and select both the nominees and the winners (a system patterned after the Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and the Private Eye Writers of America, among others).

Rules for Submission

* Authors can submit multiple titles, but only ONE BOOK PER CATEGORY/ONE CATEGORY PER BOOK (i.e. you can't submit the same book in two different categories or multiple titles in one category. Authors who've done several books in any one category need to pick the one title that seems strongest and submit only that).
* Only authors can submit their books for consideration but we encourage you to have your editors/publishers send the actual books on your behalf so you don't have to raid your author's copies or pay the postage.
* Judges can submit their work, but obviously not in the categories they are judging.
* The book must be a licensed work published for the first time between Jan 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2008. Only books with a copyright date of 2008 will be eligible for consideration. Though novels published through December 31, 2008, are eligible, entrants are required to get copies of eligible work into the hands of the category judges no later than December 1st, to allow adequate time to review the titles. Galleys are acceptable.
* All entrants MUST include a cover letter with each book. The cover letter must include the following information: the Category you are entering, Title of the Book, Name of the Author, Publication Date, Editor & Publisher, and email & "snailmail" addresses and phone numbers for the author and editor.
* A copy of all submissions—the book and cover letter—should be sent to each judge in the category you are entering and to the IAMTW. Please send an email to for the list of judges and their mailing addresses. IAMTW members can find the list in the MEMBERS ONLY section of the IAMTW site.
* Submission is free for any IAMTW member. Non-members must pay a $10 fee for each submission to cover our costs (payable via Paypal or by check to IAMTW, PO Box 8212, Calabasas, CA 91372).
* A list of all the books submitted will be posted on the IAMTW site and updated regularly. The nominees will be announced, to entrants and the media, in March 2009. The Scribes will be awarded in July 2009 at a location and date TBD.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Scribe Award Nominees Announced

The Second Annual Scribe Awards, presented by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, acknowledges and celebrates excellence in licensed tie-in writing -- novels based on TV shows, movies, and games. We are proud to announce this year’s nominees for the Scribe Award.


CSI NY: DELUGE by Stuart M. Kaminsky
MURDER SHE WROTE: PANNING FOR MURDER by Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain


AMERICAN GANGSTER by Max Allan Collins (nominee & winner)


LAST DAYS OF KRYPTON by Kevin J. Anderson


HITMAN: ENEMY WITHIN by William C. Dietz


52: THE NOVEL by Greg Cox
30 DAYS OF NIGHT by Tim Lebbon


NANCY DREW AND THE CLUE CREW #10: TICKET TROUBLE by Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon


THE 12 DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Steven Paul Leiva (nominee & winner)

The Grandmaster Award honors a writer for his extensive and exceptional work in the tie-in field. This year's honoree is ALAN DEAN FOSTER.

Foster's books include his ground-breaking novelizations in 1975 of the STAR TREK animated series and his subsequent novelizations of the first three ALIEN films, BLACK HOLE, STARMAN, OUTLAND, PALE RIDER, ALIEN NATION and, of course, STAR WARS (writing as "George Lucas"). He is also the author of scores of original novels as well as the story for the first STAR TREK feature film.

The Scribe Awards will be given at the Comic-Con Convention in San Diego in July. The Special Gaming Scribes will be awarded at Gen Con Indy in August.

The IAMTW is dedicated to enhancing the professional and public image of tie-in working with the media to review tie-in novels and publicize their educating people about who we are and what we do....and to providing a forum for tie-in writers to share information, support one another, and discuss issues relating to our field (via a regular e-newsletter, our website, and our active discussion group). Our members include authors active in many other professional writer organizations (MWA, PWA, WGA, SFWA, etc.) and who share their unique perspectives with their fellow tie-in writers. Our name itself is a declaration of pride in what we do: I AM a Tie-in Writer. You can find out more about the IAMTW at our website.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Lee Goldberg interview on Geekerati Radio

Tie-Ins Dominate Bestseller Lists

IAMTW Member Karen Traviss' REVELATION, a STAR WARS tie-in, is number one on both the New York Times and the Publishers Weekly mass market paperback bestseller lists. Another tie-in, TOM CLANCY'S ENDWAR, by David Michaels (a pseudonym for an IAMTW member), is number nine on the PW list and number 10 on the NYT list. Congratulations to them both!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ms. Tree On TV?

This could be a very big year for Max Allan Collins' MS. TREE. ComicMix reports that a new MS. TREE novel (based on the comic book) and a TV pilot are on the way.

Well, it turns out Our Gal Friday (that's a joke, but you've got to read Ms. Tree to get it) may be headed to the small screen. In an interview with Comics2Film, Collins disclosed the Oxygen Network has "gone beyond an option (and paid) the purchase price." They've assigned two screenwriters to the write the first movie, both women, and it's being regarded as a pilot for further movies and possibly a teevee series.

Obviously, things have been held up a bit by the WGA strike, but Collins took his original treatment and turned it into Deadly Beloved, a paperback novel published last December by Hard Case Crime. Cooler still (since Collins is the author of about a million mystery novels, including the aforementioned Heller boos, and teevee/movie tie-ins, including many of the C.S.I. books) the cover was painted by Ms. Tree artist Terry Beatty.

Considering other Hard Case covers have been provided by the likes of all-time paperback mystery master painter Robert McGinnis and Marvel Zombie cover king Arthur Suydam, Terry's in some pretty heady company.

I Am Michael Weston

From IAMTW Member Tod Goldberg, author of the Burn Notice novels...

Since the first week of December, when I sat down with Matt Nix to talk about writing the first book based on his show Burn Notice (called The Fix), I've pretty much spent all of my writing time, my waking time, much of my sleeping time, a considerable amount of free time, trying to think like Michael Westen. This means I spend a lot of time imagining I am doing spy shit. I now know how to blow stuff up really well using household items. I'm prTubbsetty handy in a fight. I've got witty rejoinders coming out of my ass. I know the streets of Miami like I'm fucking Philip Michael Thomas (I mean that literally -- I imagine if I were fucking Philip Michael Thomas that he'd drive me around a lot showing me places where he filmed episodes of Miami Vice, pointing out precisely where it all went so terribly, terribly wrong...).

In the past, I've generally written fiction without a deadline, which is actually a far more preferable way for me to work. I like to navel gaze. I like to ponder. I like to play Madden for three of four hour stretches. And the result is that it took me three years to write Living Dead Girl, two years to write a book that I ultimately decided sucked, ten years to write Simplify (of course, those were all stories...), a year and a half to write Fake Liar Cheat, about 18 months to write a new collection of stories (which I'm putting the final touches on now, too) and I imagine it will take me about a year or so to write the next big book I plan to write, which, as I've told many people over the years, will be about the Salton Sea in the 1960s. I've done the research. I know the characters. I have the story. But for a long time, I haven't been prepared mentally to write it. It's not a tremendous amount of fun to write a novel -- it requires monastic patience from those who love you and monastic personal patience -- particularly not a novel like Living Dead Girl, which really took the wind from me for a long time. I imagine this Salton Sea novel will be like that, too. I need to write it. I yearn to, really, but I also don't look forward to the kind of mental torture that sort of work puts on me. It happens the same way with stories, really -- there were two this year that did it to me -- one in Barrelhouse called "Walls" and one in Hot Metal Bridge called "Palm Springs", both of which got nominated for the Pushcart, so maybe I did something right -- but at least with a story, it's done with in two weeks, a month.

But...this Burn Notice book? It's a fucking hoot. Minus the 2 weeks I was in Bennington and the two weeks I had fucking Captain Tripps, I've spent every day from the first week of December writing The Fix. And it's true that not every day is a good day, as Ice Cube would agree, there are however many days where I feel like if I saw the lights of the Goodyear blimp it just might say Tod G's the pimp. I can see the finish line from here, maybe another 10 days to go, maybe slightly longer, and while I'll be happy to stop thinking I'm Michael Westen and to start thinking about these two short stories I've been putting off since December, I must say that writing this sort of comic noir is pretty damn fun to do. I've got two more to write after this one, each with a substantially longer deadline, thank god, and I've really had to teach myself that I don't need to have an unreliable narrator facing some sort of mortal pain in every line, like many of my stories and novels previously have had, and that it's okay to just have fun, line by line, day by day, writing for the entertainment of it all. I've been asked by a lot of people why I decided to do these books and my answer has been the same each time: It seemed like it would be pretty cool. It seemed like I'd reach about 50,000 more readers than I usually do. It seemed like a great way to learn, again, how to write something completely out of my comfort zone, to challenge myself in new and interesting ways. And the end result? Well, I guess you'll know in August.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Mr. Monk and the Parallel Universe

I thought the two-part MONK season finale was great, but it points out one of the pitfalls of writing a tie-in series while the TV show that it is based on is still in production. It means that there are going to be some continuity miss-matches between the TV series and the books...and there's nothing that can be done about it.

I finished my book MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY back in October 2007 and it will be published in July 2008. In between that time, the MONK writers wrote, produced and broadcast the season finale. I am now well into writing MR. MONK IS MISERABLE, which comes out next the time I deliver that manuscript, the MONK writers will have just begun writing the season seven scripts. You can see the problem.

Andy Breckman, the creator and executive producer of MONK, knows in advance what I will be writing and approves the storylines. But I certainly don't expect him or his staff to feel creatively bound to any of the events or details that I create in my books. The show comes first. That said, there are bound to be diehard fans who expect strict continuity between the books and the TV series ...and they are going to stumble over a few miss-matches.

Both my book and the finale, "Mr. Monk is on the Run," involve Monk encountering a man with six fingers on one hand. That's actually okay. A fan could assume that my book takes place before the events in the season finale. In fact, it only reinforces Monk's attitude towards the "second" man with 11 fingers that he meets. The book and the episode would fit together pretty well chronologically, "factually," and even emotionally, if not for the last scene of the two-parter.

Oh well.

I have a disclaimer in my books that warns readers that, while I try hard to stay close to the continuity of the show, the long lead time of the books makes that next to impossible (an entire season is produced between when I turn in the book and when it comes out).

I read all the scripts and I talk to Andy about what he has in mind for the season ahead, but even so, continuity problems are bound to happen. Hypothetically, for example, Sharona may come back on the show some day and the story they come up with may have nothing to do with MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS (and, unless they adapt the book, won't acknowledge those events at all).

I don't obsess about the miss-matches and neither does Andy. He once said to me that, in his mind, the Monk TV series and the Monk books are separate entities...the same characters in parallel universes...and while they are consistent with one another most of the time, there are bound to be some differences now and then.

There's the TV shows and there are the books. They are not one in the same. He is okay with that and so am I. I hope that most of the fans will be, too.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Where the Wild Tie-In Writers Are

More and more high profile authors are turning to tie-ins. Dave Eggers, author of A HEARTBREAKING WORK OF STAGGERING GENIUS, is writing the novelization of the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's picture book WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. The novelization will be based on the script by Eggers' and director Spike Jonze, which expands on Sendak's 300-word book. Publishers Weekly reports that the novelization was Eggers' idea but it was Sendak who lobbied Eggers to be the one to write the tie-in. Harper Collins will publish the book, Eggers' first since 2000 not to be published under his own McSweeney's banner. It was not an easy deal to craft:

The publisher acquired world rights to the novel about a year ago, in a deal that involved not only Eggers but lawyers from Warner Brothers, since a tie-in book was already part of the movie contract. Intellectual property rights of both Sendak and HarperCollins (Where the Wild Things Are was originally published by Harper & Row) also had a bearing on terms. As [editor Dan] Halpern put it, negotiations involved “many different moving parts.” But the goal was always to have any tie-in book published by a Harper imprint, per the preexisting deal between Warner Brothers and Harper, which owns publication rights to the Wild Things franchise. Sendak, who has since been affiliated with other houses, agreed “there was something correct” about Harper doing Eggers's book.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Latest News from IAMTW Members

Karen Traviss and Sean Williams have been nominated for the Phillip K Dick Award.

Christa Faust's novel MONEY SHOT received a rave review in Crimespree Magazine and so has Max Allan Collins' AMERICAN GANGSTER novelization.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Latest News from IAMTW Members

Max Alan Collins has signed to do the novelization of MUMMY 3 (he did the previous two plus SCORPION KING) and X-FILES 2.
William Rabkin has signed a three book deal to write original novels based on the USA Network series PSYCH. The first one comes out in January 2009.
Tod Goldberg has signed a three book deal to to write original novels based on the USA Network series BURN NOTICE. The first book comes out in July 2008.
Robert Greenberger is writing the novelization of the feature film HELLBOY 2: THE GOLDEN ARMY

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Richard Curtis on Tie-in Writing

Legendary agent Richard Curtis writes a lot about the publishing business and he's had some things to say about tie-in writing. Among them:
Tie-ins are kin to souvenirs, and in some ways are not vastly different from the dolls, toys, games, calendars, clothes, and other paraphernalia generated by successful motion pictures and television shows. Those who write them usually dismiss them with embarrassment or contempt, or brag about how much money they made for so little work. Yet, when pressed they will speak with pride about the skill and craftsmanship that went into the books and assure you that the work is deceptively easy. And if you press them yet further, many will puff out their chests and boast that tie-in writers constitute a select inner circle of artisans capable of getting an extremely demanding job done promptly, reliably, and effectively, a kind of typewriter-armed S.W.A.T. team whose motto is, "My book is better than the movie."

We don't necessarily agree with him about the motto, but we certainly take pride in the work.

Mel Odom on Tie-In Writing

We stumbled onto this interesting interview, conducted seven years ago, with novelist Mel Odom on tie-in writing. He says, among other things:
"A lot of 'regular' authors look down on media tie-in authors because they figure 'You're not doing real work. You're not really being a writer. You're doing knock-off stuff.' There have been a lot of 'regular' writers who try to do what Chris Golden and I do, and they can't because they don't assimilate the world enough, or they're trying to bring too much of their own stuff to it. Media tie-in writing is really tough, because you have to be strong writer, and walk-in there and tell the best story you can, while at the same time you have to set your ego aside and do it 'their way' to a degree, as far as 'Buffy would never do this.' 'But, when I was a kid, I would do that...'

He wants to make sure that his books are more than just a screenplay in book form:
I feel that a lot of people, why they try to do novelizations, they squeeze the dialogue in between text descriptions. You know, 'They were sitting in a restaurant. He had pancakes, and she had a milkshake, and he said...' You know, and there's a lot of novelizations that read that way. I don't want mine to read that way if I can. I want to give them a book that has legs. If you do a really nice book, it may have legs and be out there longer than the movie is. The movie will come and go in a month or two, but if you write the book really well, there will still be people ordering it for a long time after the film has left theatres. There's something about a book."

Yes, there certainly is.