Tied In With Keith
Keith DeCandido is one of the authors who contributed stories to Turning The Tied, the IAMTW’s charity anthology that releases in March.
Keith R.A. DeCandido has written novels, short stories, and comic books in more than thirty different licensed universes over the past two-and-a-half decades, including TV shows (Star Trek, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape, Orphan Black), movies (Alien, Cars, Kung Fu Panda, Resident Evil, Serenity), comics (Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, Thor, the X-Men), and games (World of Warcraft, Dungeons & Dragons, StarCraft, Classic BattleTech, Command & Conquer). In 2009, the IAMTW granted him a Lifetime Achievement Award, which means he never needs to achieve anything ever again. Find out less at www.DeCandido.net.
His Turning the Tied tale begins:
“Agent LaManna. I wish I could say it’s good to see you again, but that would be a lie.”
“Ms. Yatie. Wish I could say I’m surprised to see you here—hang on, no, wait, that’s the God’s honest truth. I will say, though, that it really is a surprise to see you in this rotten condition.”
“I will make a full recovery, worry not.”
“I’m going through a whole lot of emotions, Ms. Yatie, and I gotta tell you, ‘worry’ don’t even crack the top ten.”
Keith graciously played less-than-twenty-questions with me in celebration of the anthology. Check it out:
You’ve a great story in the upcoming Turning the Tied anthology. How long ago did you start writing tie-in fiction, and what did you enjoy enough about the first project to keep at it?
I started writing tie-in fiction as an outgrowth of editing tie-in fiction. From 1993-1998, I worked for the late Byron Preiss, a book packager, on several tie-in lines, most notably a line of Marvel Comics-based novels and anthologies that were co-published by Byron and Boulevard Books from 1994-2000.
One of our first projects for the Marvel line was a Spider-Man anthology, and we were having trouble getting a Venom story outline approved by Marvel. Marvel finally gave us a one-sentence pitch, and—as we were past the 11th hour at this point, deadline-wise—my co-editor and I (John Gregory Betancourt) wrote a story based on that sentence in about three days.
I’ve always loved tie-in fiction, starting when I read James Blish’s short story adaptations of Star Trek episodes, and as a teenager, I thought it would be great to be one of those people who wrote Star Trek novels. So getting to actually be a tie-in writer was a huge thrill, and I’ve never looked back.
How do you prepare to write a tie-in … research … outline?
Oh, research is always the starting point. Even if it’s something I’m already familiar with as a reader/viewer, I still go through the source material as thoroughly as is possible before diving in. As an example, when I got the gig to write the Farscape comic book, I sat down with all four seasons and The Peacekeeper Wars and watched them all straight through, even though I’m a huge-ass Farscape fan and had seen the episodes many many many times.
That isn’t always practical—for instance, you can’t watch all five decades’ worth of Star Trek when you’re gonna do a Trek story, nor read every single Marvel comic featuring Spider-Man when you’re gonna do a Spider-Man story—but you can pick and choose the appropriate research material. As an example, I did a Thor trilogy, so I picked select comics featuring Marvel’s Asgardian characters to re-read. And when I do, for example, a Klingon-focused Trek piece, I’ll watch a ton of Klingon episodes…
After that, yes, an outline, because the licensor has to approve the outline before you start writing a single word of the final product.
What is the most difficult aspect of tie-in writing?
Being the first (or one of the first) projects in a new license when everyone’s trying to figure out what they can and can’t do and what works and what doesn’t. The first several projects in a tie-in license are always the most fraught as you go through the growing pains of working together.
What do you enjoy the most about tie-in fiction?
Getting to write new stories for characters and in worlds that I love.
Tell us about your upcoming project …
Unfortunately, I’m under an NDA, so I can’t talk about my upcoming tie-in project except to say that it’s really really cool and I’m having a grand old time with it.
Meantime, I’ve got several non-tie-in projects going. There’s Feat of Clay, the second book in my Adventures of Bram Gold series of urban fantasies taking place in my hometown of the Bronx, New York. There’s Phoenix Precinct, the next book in my series of fantasy/police procedures. There’s my contribution to the Systema Paradoxa series of novellas about cryptids (mine is called All-the-Way House). And there’s a medical thriller that I co-wrote with Dr. Munish K. Batra (with whom I also wrote the recently released serial killer thriller Animal), which we’re in the midst of revising to incorporate notes from our agent.
And probably some other stuff, too…
Pineapple on pizza?
STONE THE HERETIC!!!!!!
If you could choose any tie-in character you’ve written about to come to life and hang out with you in NYC, who would you pick, and why?
The Warriors Three, from Marvel (whom I wrote in the novels Thor: Dueling with Giants, Sif: Even Dragons Have Their Endings, and Warriors Three: Godhood’s End). Norse gods in general would be great to hang out with in the greatest city in the world, and Volstagg in particular would be a joy to explore the Big Apple with…
What’s the latest book you’ve read, and what’s next up in your to-be-read stack?
I so rarely have time to read for pleasure. Right now, though, I’m on a comics kick, going through my trade paperbacks of The Question by Denny O’Neil & Denys Cowan. Next up is another graphic novel that I just bought from its creator: Drawn to Key West by Theresa Chiechi, Vanessa Matte, & Eileen Chao.
Hilariously primitive web site: http://DeCandido.net