General Q & A Session For The Authors

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by Klingolaus, Sep 3, 2021.

  1. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    This is going to sound like a cop-out, but it's true. I like the variety. Indeed, one of the perks of being a media tie-in writer is that I get to stretch my muscles by writing in lots of different genres: sf, fantasy, horror, murder mysteries, spy thrillers, kid's books, even at least one historical romance. I like to think it keeps things fresh and interesting!

    I'm a modern-day pulp writer at heart. And a jack-of-all-genres.

    Movie novelizations are probably the easiest to write, since the screenwriter has already done most of the heavy lifting in terms of the plotting and dialogue, but even those can pose challenges when it comes to trying to visualize a movie you haven't seen yet!

    As for writing for fun? Do social-media posts count? :)
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Sorry, you lost me after "Have you tried".
     
  3. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    I know this is a bit off topic but speaking of Lower Decks...every time I hear the theme for the series I can't help but think I'm in the queue waiting to get on Soarin' at Disney World's Epcot. :lol: Don't know why, but that's what goes through my head.

    I highly recommend going on Soarin', BTW, if anyone goes to Epcot. I've been known to gripe at all the nickel and diming Disney Parks does these days :scream: , but I have to admit they do what they do well. I can't knock the parks themselves.

    Anyway, sorry for that detour :whistle:. Back to the show...or thread:beer:
     
  4. Stevil2001

    Stevil2001 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2001
    Michael and I used Google Docs when we cowrote A Choice of Catastrophes. I'm not a huge fan-- a bit clunky-- but for letting us work simultaneously on one file without emailing it was invaluable.
     
    Csalem likes this.
  5. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    I'm working on a comics script that I can't say what it is because I signed an NDA. I'm working on my "Birthright" monograph for The Gold Archives project that was announced today. I'm working on my short stories for the anthologies Phenomenons: Every Human Creature and The Four ???? of the Apocalypse. I'm about halfway through Feat of Clay, the sequel to 2019's A Furnace Sealed. I'm working on the first in a series of novelettes that I also can't say what it is because it hasn't been announced yet. And at some point I have to write a short story to be the one original amidst the reprints in Ragnarok and a Hard Place: More Tales of Cassie Zukav, Weirdness Magnet.

    Oh, and I'm rewatching two episodes of Voyager per week, plus I'm reviewing each new episode of Lower Decks season two, and will be doing the same for Prodigy season one, Discovery season four, Picard season two, and Strange New Worlds season one when they debut.

    So, y'know, taking it easy..... :)
     
    SolarisOne, Cyfa, Leto_II and 4 others like this.
  6. DrBeverly

    DrBeverly Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2012
    Do novels come from author's own ideas/proposals, or are you ever commissioned to write a specific novel?

    And what dictates when a novel becomes some kind of 'special' edition - a hardback, or what used to be called 'giant novels', as opposed to just part of the numbered sequence?
     
  7. David Mack

    David Mack Writer Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2003
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Yes.

    Whether or not the publisher's sales team thinks the book will sell well enough to merit that treatment.
     
  8. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    As Dave said, the answer to that question is "yes," but there are other options as well. Sometimes it's developed collaboratively in-house by the writer and editor. Sometimes the notion comes from the licensor. There are lots of ways for a tie-in novel to have its genesis.
     
  9. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    The only honest answer is "It depends." It's a collaborative process, involving the author, the editor, and the licensor. Sometimes the Powers That Be may have a very definite idea of what they want, sometimes they may have a vaguer notion, sometimes it's just, "We need a new TOS book for July, Greg. Got any ideas?" :)

    And there's usually a bit of give-and-take before you settle on a plot that everybody agrees on.

    "How about the long-awaited sequel to 'Spock's Brain'?"
    "Or not. Try again, Greg." :)
     
    SolarisOne, Leto_II and James Swallow like this.
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    To add to the others' responses, I have occasionally been commissioned to write a specific book, but the commission has been extremely open -- "Write the novel about Picard's missing nine years between the Stargazer and the Enterprise" or "Wrap up the loose ends of Before Dishonor and have Picard and Crusher decide to start a family" or just "Do a Typhon Pact e-novella" or "Take over Enterprise post-Romulan War" -- and it's been left to me to figure out the specific story.

    After all, coming up with the ideas is what they hire us to do. The public often has this idea that we get handed detailed outlines of what to write, but the reason they hire us is so that we can do that part. If you hire an architect to design and build an extension to your house, you don't draw the blueprints for them. That's what you're paying them to do. You just tell them the general idea of what you want them to do for you, then consider their suggestions and pick what you like or don't like.
     
    SolarisOne likes this.
  11. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 1999
    Location:
    New York City
    While Christopher is not wrong, this is the part where I have to say that, in fact, I have, on several tie-in projects, been handed an outline of what to write. In most of those cases, it's a pretty simple outline rather than a detailed one and I have to embellish and add to it (my StarCraft novel Nova, for example; my Heroes Reborn novella for another).

    To keep this to Star Trek....

    Diplomatic Implausibility: "Hey, Keith, how'd you like to write Worf's first ambassadorial mission?" Plot then worked out in collaboration with John Ordover.
    Demons of Air and Darkness: Plot worked out between me and Marco Palmieri, who had a very clear vision for how he wanted the DS9 post-finale novels to go.
    The Brave and the Bold: I pitched this is a multibook "starship team-up" series, John told me to slow my roll and make it a two-book series like Susan Wright's The Badlands. The debut of Enterprise forced a last-minute change to the prologue....
    The Art of the Impossible: This was pretty much entirely my story, as I came to Marco with the notion of explaining the Betreka Nebula Incident.
    A Good Day to Die and Honor Bound: Very much a collaborative effort between me and John. For one thing, the notion of turning the Order of the Bat'leth into the Knights Templar was his idea....
    Enemy Territory: This was all mine.
    A Time for War, a Time for Peace: This whole project was originally conceived over dinner by me, John, Robert Greenberger, John Vornholt, and Carol Greenburg. It went through a lot of changes, though I insisted from jump that I do the finale and that I get to write the story of how and why Worf was back in Starfleet in Nemesis.
    Ferenginar: Satisfaction is Not Guaranteed: I don't remember if Marco came to me with the idea of doing Ferenginar or if I begged him to do it so I could for once do something 180 degrees from the Klingons; we worked out the plot together, though this one was mostlyme.
    Articles of the Federation: "Hey, Keith, how'd you like to write a Trek version of The West Wing?" That was John who asked the question, but it was Marco who took over the project and made it work; most of the mini-plots were mine, but several were Marco's, notably the Trinni/ek state dinner.
    The Mirror-Scaled Serpent: "Hey, Keith, how'd you like to write the Voyager MU novel?" Having said that, having the bulk of it take place in Ardana and having the cloud city crash was Marco's idea.
    Q & A: "Hey, Keith, how'd you like to write one of the 20th anniversary TNG novels?" This was entirely mine, and a story I'd been wanting to tell for years.
    A Burning House: This was mostly mine, with significant kibbitzing from Marco.
    A Gutted World: This was also mostly mine, with significant kibbitzing from Marco.
    A Singular Destiny: "Hey, Keith, how'd you like to write the first followup to Dave blowing everything up?" Marco wanted to have there be one novel that showed the broader galactic consequences of Destiny and help set up The Typhon Pact; this one was very much a collaborative process.
     
  12. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    So, what every one is saying is, it varies.

    Actually I think this question has cropped up before and the answers were pretty much the same. It sounds like it can be anywhere from the author conceives of the story and fleshes it out pretty much on his own (with the usual editorial oversight of course), to a more collaborative process between the editor and writer. And it sounds like sometimes the writer goes to the editor with their story idea, and sometimes it's the reverse.

    I imagine working on the relaunches is one that would require much more collaboration because you have multiple authors working on it and a continuing story line. So I'm guessing in that case the editor would be more involved with the overall story.

    But still, very interesting. It seems like S&S has a good process in place. It sounds like the writers get good feedback and they even get to be somewhat independent sometimes (or at least as independent as possible for a tie-in work).
     
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    I suspect the reason your process was so much more collaborative is that you're in NYC and could socialize with the editors, so you had a lot more opportunities to discuss projects and hash them out. Not so much something they required of you as just something you and they had the chance to take advantage of. Living out here in the Midwest, I generally work more independently -- I send a proposal and it gets approved or not, I write an outline and then get notes back, I write the manuscript and then get editorial revisions, etc. I dunno, I might well benefit from more frequent conversations with my editors, but they haven't insisted on it.
     
    SolarisOne likes this.
  14. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    How did it work for you when you wrote a Star Trek novel that was part of the relaunches? Were you able to collaborate with your editors and fellow writers for those? It seems those would require a lot more teamwork among the various authors then a standalone novel would.

    I mean, I guess that could be for any author. I imagine if someone is writing a novel as part of a duology or trilogy, like the upcoming Coda trilogy, then that would require even more collaboration. But what about just one of the normal relaunch novels, like Greater Than The Sum for instance. Part of the relaunches overall, but not part of a specific trilogy or something like that.
     
  15. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    Collaborations are easier in these days of email and the internet. When Dave, Dayton, Kevin, and I were writing the LEGACIES trilogy, we were living in at least three different states at the time, but the emails were flying fast and furious between NY, PA, and MO.

    Much easier than when I wrote my first collaboration back around 1990, when Scott Ciencin and I had to rely on long-distance phone calls and FedEx. :)
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    With Greater than the Sum, I got the manuscripts for the previous books and the outline for Destiny (and its manuscripts when they became available), and I corresponded with Keith and Dave to keep things straight. I think that when I started Orion's Hounds I corresponded a bit with Mike Martin so he and Andy could insert a few of my characters into their books. With the ENT books, though, it was more just a matter of reading the preceding novels.

    The most extensive collaborative process I had was on Mere Anarchy, under Keith's editorship. That was an epic, ongoing e-mail correspondence where we broke the overall miniseries outline together, somewhat like a writers' room, then offered notes and suggestions as we developed our individual outlines, as the various manuscripts were turned in, etc. It was very fun and I've always wanted to do something like it again, but haven't had the opportunity.
     
    SolarisOne and Jinn like this.
  17. Josh Kelton

    Josh Kelton Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2009
    Location:
    England
    Had you watched many episodes of the series at the time?
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Well, yes, I'd seen it all in first run years earlier. And when I was given the assignment, I rewatched the series twice, and gained a new appreciation for it. I didn't mention watching the series since I assumed that was a given for any tie-in work.
     
    SolarisOne likes this.
  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2004
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    True story: Some years ago, an editor asked me if I was fan of a certain TV series (not Trek-related).

    "No," I answered honestly. "But I can be."

    And, sure enough, I spent a couple weeks binge-watching the TV series via cable and DVD, studied the fan websites and episode guides, and pretty soon I was good to go. You just need to do your homework.

    And, yes, in that case, I came up with the plot of the book myself, then submitted it for approval.
     
  20. Damian

    Damian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2017
    Location:
    United States
    I'd probably throw in "pay me enough money and I'll watch anything you want" :lol:

    IIRC didn't you have to collaborate a bit with David Mack on some of those because of Section 31? Kind of amazing when you think about it. 200 years apart, yet, there will still some significant ties between the two (and IIRC Mack previously checked in with Martin on his Destiny book since the Columbia came from the period of the Romulan War--though in that case the ties were not as significant since it was only a brief time).

    Still, it's good that you guys all seem to have a good relationship (at least from what I can tell). I'm sure that helps when you are working on continuing story lines, as well as characters that might have been created by one author continuing in future books by others.

    I found that as well. I always liked Enterprise, though the first 2 seasons could be a bit uneven at times (though in fairness so were TNG and DS9). But of all the series I find Enterprise is the one I gain a bit more appreciation for each time I watch it. My opinions of TNG, DS9 and Voyager have all remained pretty steady over the years (the Kurtzman shows are too new yet for me to know if my opinions on those will change). But Enterprise is one I like a bit more each time. More so since Discovery's come onto the scene. I think we all know I have a bit of a fetish about production design continuity :whistle:. And I've always appreciated the work Zimmerman and his team put into Enterprise to make it more futuristic from today, yet less so from the original series (not at all an easy task). And the way Discovery has played fast and lose with the production design has made me appreciate just how challenging it probably was for the Enterprise team to achieve some level of consistency with the rest of the Star Trek universe. Even the storylines of the episodes, outside a few exceptions, they tried hard to keep it consistent with 100 years pre-original series.

    I never felt Enterprise was more advanced than it should have been in Star Trek history. Nothing in life is ever perfect, but I think Enterprise achieved the best balance it possible could, and as a fan I always appreciated that about the show.
     
    TheAlmanac and Leto_II like this.