Keith R. A. DeCandido is the author of numerous novels and story tie-ins with shows such as Star Trek and its spin-offs, Supernatural, Dr. Who, Andromeda and Farscape among others. His latest novel Four Walls breaks new ground: it's his first foray into writing a tie-in for CSI: New York DeCandido talked with TrekToday's Kristine Huntley about how his writing career got started, his latest projects and his thoughts on the new Star Trek movie and the SFWA/Nebula controversy.
TrekToday: You have a long and impressive bibliography! How did you get your start?
Keith R. A. DeCandido: In a way that really isn't replicable! I used to work as an editor in charge of a bunch of science fiction projects. My first short story I wound up writing out of necessity. At the time I was an associate editor working with a senior editor and we were kicking off a line of comic-based story anthologies and we needed a story for an anthology at the last minute because a character that was on the cover was not in the book. We had a bunch of stories featuring this character that Marvel had rejected. Finally they gave us a one-sentence summary of the type of story they would like to see and I just wrote it. That was my first sale, and then I did a couple of other short stories and then I wrote a Spiderman novel.
The opportunity to write a Dr. Who story presented itself--the guy who was editing that anthology was doing a story for me. Then a couple of other things happened here and there and then I wound up helping out Chris Golden and Nancy Holder on the first Buffy the Vampire Slayer Watcher's Guide. And that gave me the opportunity to do the Buffy novel. It's just one of those cases where it's a snowball rolling down a hill--each thing builds on the previous thing you did. So that gave me the opportunity to do a couple of the Hercules books. Once I'd done those, the editor of the Star Trek novels--who'd actually known me for years but didn't actually ask me to pitch to him until after I'd established myself--said, "Hey, how'd you like to do a Star Trek novel?" And that's where I've done most of my work actually. I've done more than a dozen Star Trek novels.
The Andromeda novel [I did] actually came about because I did a Farscape book. And the Farscape book I lobbied for. I got that and on the strength of that, the editor of the Andromeda books came to me and said, "Well, you did a nice job on the Farscape book; how'd you like to do an Andromeda book?" And I said sure. It was one of the TV licenses I got to kick off--I did the first Farscape book, I did the first Andromeda book and I did the first Supernatural book. But the only one I'm going to do a second one in is Supernatural!
TrekToday: You've done a lot in the Star Trek world especially.
DeCandido: Until the line came to an end earlier this year, I was the editor of the monthly series of eBooks, Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers.
TrekToday: Why was the line ended?
DeCandido: Part of it was just that the line never increased its profile. It had a good, steady number of readers and it never went down and it never went up. And it ran for seven years, which is pretty good. We put out over seventy eBooks and all good things must come to an end. They just felt it wasn't really growing enough to be worth sticking the money into it. We're still going to be putting out print compilations of the eBooks--we've still got a ways to go before we run out of those. I still do some freelance editing on Star Trek books for Pocket and I still do anthologies for them. With Peter David, I also did a New Frontier anthology.
TrekToday: It seems like there are quite a few anthologies coming out now, and that there have been quite a few in recent years. Why do you think the trend is towards anthologies now?
DeCandido: There's still a novel [being published] every month, where there are maybe one or two anthologies every year, so it's only a small fraction of the line. I think the reason we keep seeing more of them is a variety of reasons. One of them is that it's a good place to get a different type of story. There are some stories that just work better in shorter form than long form, especially with the cutback to twelve books per year from the twenty-four that there were for the ten years between 1995 and 2005. It gives you the opportunity to use different writers and a variety of types of stories. And they're fun to do! It's about variety. One of the things about the Star Trek fiction world, partly because there are five TV shows and other types of Star Trek prose like New Frontier and S.C.E., is that there are a lot of different types of stories to tell and anthologies allow for that. It's a different way of telling stories.
TrekToday: How long does it take from pitch to publication for a Star Trek novel or anthology?
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